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BoI, FIIRO seek closer ties to boost agro-processing

The Guardian - August 13, 2014

With technology and funds inhibiting the growth of agro-processing activities in the country, the Bank of industry (BoI) and the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO) may review strategies to deepen relationships that would aid the realization of their mandates.
Indeed, the agencies noted that, despite the huge deposit of natural resources in the country, there is a need to develop homegrown solutions to address the gaps in the country’s industrialization drive.
With research already conducted in key areas where the nation has competitive and comparative advantage, BoI and FIIRO have concluded plans to review intervention strategies that would drive agro-processing in line with their mandates.
The move would include interventions that would aid the country’s transformation from farming to developing small-scale enterprises, food processing and industrialized agro-industries.
Managing Director/Chief Executive of BoI, Rasheed Olaoluwa, during his visit to the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi, in Lagos, recently, stressed the need to create an ecosystem that will function towards industrializing the country.
He remarked that the leading development finance institution in Nigeria had a similar mandate to that of the research institute in enhancing economic development hence the need to streamline activities between both institutions in a way to engender growth for the country through industrialization.
He observed that at 6.8 per cent, the contribution of the manufacturing sector to Nigeria’s GDP was low, emphasizing that: “we need to find home grown solution to our economic growth.”
“Rather than appeal to industrialists to utilize FIIRO’s inventions, we will support those who come to take up equipment from FIIRO,” he said.
He disclosed that the bank was in the process of procuring the services of professional Business Support Service Providers (BSSP) and urged FIIRO to key into the initiative in order to help prospective loan seekers acquire information and develop bankable applications.
With the federal government’s foreign direct investment drive, the BoI boss noted that it was important for FIIRO to explore the potential of deploying low-cost local technology that can help SMEs compete favourably.
“One of our key strategic development initiatives is to pursue linkages between industrialists and centres of innovative development solutions that can produce indigenous and low cost technology that would help accelerate growth industrially,” he said.
He pointed out that in every state of the country, Nigeria has at least one agricultural product that can be focused on for commercial and industrial development and that industrialization based on agriculture will make a lot of impact on the population.
“Recently President Goodluck Jonathan launched the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan NIRP, the document identifies four key sectors of Nigeria’s comparative advantage and one of them is agricultural processing which FIIRO has an edge in helping to accelerate development in that sector,” he said.
He said that the bank and FIIRO were in alignment in helping to create jobs and assured the researchers of BoI’s support in terms of collaboration; informing and sensitizing Nigerians; the promotion of developed technology through exhibition and other avenues to ensure their visibility and availability.
“It is essential to build capacity for accredited equipment fabricators to improve our local technology by making it more effective, attractive and low cost in order to also encourage the youths to participate in Nigeria’s industrial revolution in this digital age,” he said.
On her part, the Director-General/Chief Executive of FIIRO, Dr. Gloria Elemo, affirmed that the institute was indeed relevant in its developmental contributions to the agro-allied, agro-processing and minerals sector of the economy and home for industrial technology for the MSME sector.
“The Institute has contributed through processing of local raw materials and the production of indigenous technology to the growth of SMEs in the country and have conducted researches into all the natural agro and mineral based resources of the country,” she said.
She noted that the strategic partnership between FIIRO and BoI continues to have an unprecedented impact on Nigeria’s industrial landscape and must be properly harnessed.

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