Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, yesterday rekindled the hope of Averson Group from St. Louis, Missouri, in the United States of America, by pledging the commitment of the state government to the realization of its dream for the establishment of a food processing factory in the state.
He gave the assurance during a meeting with executives of the group at the Danforth Plant Centre in St. Louis.
“When I heard your story I became interested and asked myself what else is the hyena looking for when a goat lies nearby?” The Governor stated.
“Benue State people have no problem with the production of agricultural produce but our challenges remain storage, processing, and marketing.”
Governor Ortom stated that from the briefing he received the group had the technology, expertise and funds to fill the gap and assured that the state government would fulfil its obligations in ensuring the establishment of the project.
According to him his encounter with the group was a dream come true as he had promised the people of the state that his administration would provide an enabling environment for the establishment of agro-processing and other industries that would create massive jobs, wealth and opportunities.
The Governor directed an investment banker, Dr. Tavershima Adyorough, to anchor the realization of the project.
He disclosed that the state government would boost dry season farming in the state by clearing land on the banks of rivers Benue and Katsina-Ala so that farmers could deploy irrigation in crop production which he said gave better yield with the scheme.
In his presentation, one of the promoters of the project, Mr. Peter Zordstra, stated that research conducted by the group revealed that yams and cassava from the state had the highest rated nutritional value in the world.
He however listed constrained market volume, lack of incentives and export market, limited jobs, poverty, lack of opportunity, as well as crop waste from lack of market access, as some of the challenges that Benue farmers face and which their investment would help to tackle.
Mr. Zordstra stated that lack of credible partners in Benue State stalled the project as “13 years of commitment talk, official ‘support’ letters,” produced no action.
He disclosed that the group was into food processing, agriculture mechanization, public transportation and infrastructure but that if given the necessary support it would commence with food processing as a pilot scheme.
A businessman, Mr. Terna Hembah, disclosed during the meeting that when he got wind of the ordeal of Dr. Philip Yakubu, a Benue-US citizen and food processing specialist who had mobilized investors for the project but did not receive the support to execute it for 13 years, he traveled to the states and conducted due diligence before drawing Governor Ortom’s attention to it.
Governor Ortom’s wife, Mrs. Eunice Erdoo Ortom, Dr. Magdalyne Dura, Special Adviser on Development Cooperation, MDG’s and NEPAD, Dr. Adyorough, an investment banker, and Mr. Tahav Agerzua, Special Adviser on Media and ICT, also attended the meeting.
Dr. Yakubu hosted the Governor and his entourage in his residence which Mr. Zordstra described as the Benue Embassy in Missouri.