Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development on Friday inspected the first organic banana plantation by an Indian-based company to increase the country’s agro- export potential.
Inspecting the plantation in Kwali Area Council on Friday, Ogbeh said that the project which was the first of its kind, would employ young Nigerians and meet both local and export demands for bananas.
The minister, who said the project was in line with the Federal Government’s `Green Alternative’ agric programme, assured that the government would continue to provide enabling environment for agriculture investments to thrive.
According to him, we want to produce healthy foods to reduce spread of diseases.
Ogbeh said that the banana plantation would be replicated in Osun, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Taraba, Edo and Oyo states within the next few weeks.
“We have come to see one of the first banana initiative in the country put in place by Contec global.
“So, when we find investors like CONTEC and Dangote Group, our job is to give them maximum support, learn from their difficulties and see how we can help them solve it.
“This is a very exciting programme, and we will talk of few thousand hectares of organic bananas for export to Europe.
“We intend to bring in young Nigerians to take up one hectare each and multiply following the tutelage of CONTEC and they will off-take everything and ship to Europe.
“Nigeria is the closest by air to Europe from any of the banana producing countries so we intend to take part of it, increase our agro-export potentials, create jobs, create wealth,’’ he said.
Mr Thomas Chackunkal, the Managing Director of the Contec Global Agro, the initiators and owners of the banana farm said the plantation was a 250 hectare in a biological safe demonstration farm.
Chackunkal said that the banana plantation would be replicated in states across the country.
“We want to attract the young people. We want a holistic approach to provide all the basic needs like housing, schools, primary health care,’’ he said.
Contec agro develops organic farming products such as bio-seed, bio-fertiliser, and bio-planting to help Africa develop its agricultural industry and ensure food security for the future.