…Begin High Level Segment Talks on Training, Internship and Establishment of Food Reserve Center
The Mbaise Policy Roundtable (MPR), a non-governmental organization with offices in Owerri Imo State, Nigeria and New York, USA, announced in a recent statement, a landmark understanding to develop the Mbaise Agriculture sector in partnership with the CSS Group of Companies- one of the largest mechanized Agribusiness in Africa, majoring in Agriculture, construction, food processing and packaging, Aviation and Renewable energy. This was made known by the Keynote speaker, Professor John Kennedy Opara, PhD., OFR, JP, the chairman/CEO of CSS Group of Companies, during a well-attended Zoom Agriculture Skills Acquisition Conference. The theme of the conference was: “21st Century Skills and Resources to Leverage Agriculture Value Chain”. The organizations will partner to provide qualified Mbaise candidates with training and internships in modern Agriculture techniques and business and establish a Food Reserve Center in Mbaise.
At the April 7th, 2021 conference, a packed audience of engaged community members came together to share ideas and plan for developing the Agriculture sector. The large audience included professionals, educationists, political, religious and business leaders, young people and individuals from Mbaise, Imo State and the South East region, within and outside Nigeria.
The conference featured four main speakers. Speakers included Prof. John Kennedy Opara, the CEO of CSS Group (CSS Farms, Nasarawa Nigeria -a leading agriculture enterprise in Nigeria), Prof. Joseph Ahaneku, former Vice-Chancellor of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria, Prince Victor Mbalewe, an Agricultural Economist and former Senior Special Assistant on Agriculture to the former Governor of Imo State of Nigeria (Gov. Emeka Ihedioha) and Her Excellency, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Education, Federal Republic of Nigeria. It was a day filled with emotion, inspiration and hope. The community experienced the cutting-edge agricultural technology, training and opportunities exhibited by CSS Farms and pictured themselves on the edge of success and survival through agriculture.
Prof. John Kennedy Opara, the keynote speaker, gave a detailed introduction of the use of cutting-edge technology at CSS Farms (www.cssgroup.com.ng) through videos and PowerPoint presentations. He insisted “that youth must be the major priority of everyone” and that CSS Farm runs an intensive and extensive training program that has already raised many youth agricultural entrepreneurs from around Nigeria.
Professor Joseph Ahaneku, Prince Victor Mbalewe and Her excellency, Prof. Viola Onwuliri explored the inherent potential in agriculture in reducing mass unemployment, ending food insecurity and attendant social vices, and ultimately alleviating income poverty in Nigeria, respectively. The three highly respected scholars agreed “that sustainability and improved quality of life are guaranteed, for all with the adoption of (21st-century) agriculture” as a denominator and priority for national development in Nigeria.
Mr. Chijike Ndukwu, Chief Policy Officer of MPR, announced the MPR’s Post Conference Action Plan. MPR is spearheading the establishment of the Mbaise Farms Group, LLC. One goal of this farm company will be to incubate the Mbaise Youth Agriculture Small Business Program (MYABIP) to support young agriculture entrepreneurs in Mbaise. Within five years, the MPR agriculture small business incubator program will produce local businesses that can control up to 70% of the market share in Mbaise.
The MPR Clearinghouse and Task Force (MPR-CTF) will collaborate with the CSS Group to expand and extend agricultural training opportunities at CSS Farms to young people and individuals interested in setting up small agriculture businesses in Mbaise. The MPR-CTF’s initial task will be to immediately identify individuals in Mbaise who will fill the 23 agriculture training scholarships at CSS Farms in Nasarawa, Nigeria.
Prof. John Kennedy Opara, Chairman/CEO of CSS Farms and, Rev. Fr. Charles Ufomadu will gratefully sponsor 20 and 3 scholarship slots, respectively. The 23 scholarship are worth over N6.6M. MPR further aspires to provide scholarships for additional 77 agriculture training spots (at least one per autonomous community) if funding becomes available, to complete 100 individuals within the next five years.
Mr. Ndukwu also indicated that MPR – CTF shall spearhead the establishment of a customized Agriculture training center/institute in Mbaise; sponsor MPR Agriculture Scholarships Fund; establish a Food Reserve Center/Warehouse/distribution infrastructure; identify and drive domination in the cultivation and production of three topmost viable agriculture products; re- introduce the mass planting of fruit trees as raw material for other cottage industries in Mbaise. This initiative will also include the replacement of all less producing palm trees with early and highly producing oil palm trees, in all communities in Mbaise. Mbaise Policy Roundtable, Inc is also poised to effectively leverage the opportunity of becoming a veritable outlet for CSS’s Corporate Social Responsibility.
The MPR conference team included the Chairman of MPR, Prof. Edward Oparaoji, Dr. Jude Ihuoma (Chief Program Manager/Coordinator), Mr. Joachin Nwagwu (Director of Technology Sector), Dr. Chinimerem Dan Onwuliri (Moderator), Mr. Divine Onuoha (Youth Outreach Coordinator), Lady Akwugo Rowland Obom (Agriculture Sector Director), and Mr. Chijike K Ndukwu (Chief Policy Officer).