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Plans to make food new crude oil deepen

Organic FarmingImage courtesy of haygrove.co.za/blog

Original post on The Nation

There is a revolution tending towards diversifying the economy and literally wean it away from overdependence on dwindling oil revenue. One sure way this is being driven is through the deliberate focus on agriculture as an alternative source of revenue.

Thankfully, some banks have since keyed into the federal programmes programme. One of such banks is First Bank of Nigeria Limited. The bank recently partnered with Eventful Limited to drive the nation’s food economy through its sponsorship of the third edition of the Fiesta of Flavours. The world class food and beverage fair held for two days at the Harbour Point in Victoria-Island, Lagos.  The support reinforces the bank’s commitment to building the entire agricultural value chain from production to consumption, creating opportunities for SMEs in the food sector and enhancing the economic diversification of the Nigerian citizenry at large.

In a statement by Folake Ani-Mumuney, FirstBank’s Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, during the announcement of the partnership, “the Bank’s partnership with the Fiesta of Flavours reinforces our support for SMES and our resolve to drive agriculture across the entire value chain whilst promoting economic growth and sustainability.”

Tagged: ‘Food, Fun and Family,’ the fair had lots of attractions including: exciting food and drinks vendors, fun cooking competitions; children’s cooking corner; star-studded concert; celebrity chef cooking classes; children’s play area; exclusive wine tasting; champagne bar; dancercise and super giveaways.

Justifying the need for the fair, Mrs Yewande Zaccheus, the Chief Executive Officer of Eventful Limited, said that the initiative had created opportunities for the growth and development of SMEs. Zaccheus said that the company was using the initiative to showcase SMEs, adding that many businesses had grown through the platform. She said that SMEs that did not have money to advertise were using the platform to create awareness. Zaccheus advised government to support SMEs to grow with improve operating environment in view of the dwindling oil revenue.

One of the participants, Miss Henrietta Ikhuoria, the Managing Director, Feast House Chef, also commended the bank and Eventful Limited on the programme. Ikhuoria said that she came to use the platform to showcase her company that was into takeout lunch, bulk meal and outdoor catering services. She said that the company had been in existence for a year and six months with footprints on the Victoria Island and plans to extend to Lagos Mainland in 2018. Ikhuoria lauded the organisers for enhanced security and conducive stands at the fair ground.

Some other food vendors that participated for the first time include Ibadan based Ofi Foods Industries, Living Twist Cake company and Salubrity foods which specialised on Tigernut, Date syrup, Zoborodo, Fruit Sluchies and Cocktails. Olufunmike Ani, the managing director of Ofi Food Industries said she was pleased with the turn out and patronage of customers and promised to come back next year for the fiesta. She extends her gratitude to First Bank for the sponsorship of the food fairs.

The bank used the expo to build strong alliance with the agro-services sector and remained optimistic about the sector’s prospects which have been demonstrated by the bank in its agric schemes.

To corroborate this, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Chief Audu Ogbeh who was the special guest, described the agro-sector as a vital one with the recent NBS Q4, 2016 GDP growth rate of about 4%, and a 24% contribution to the economy.

Chief Ogbeh decried the menace of the importation of foodstuffs into the country, which he identified as a major threat to achieving self-sufficiency in food production.

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