Anambra signs MoU with Ekcel Farm for tomato, cassava production

By The Citizen

Anambra State Government yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an indigenous organisation, Ekcel Frams Limited, for the production of tomato and cassava. It was gathered that the undertaking would provide no fewer than 5,300 jobs in the first phase of its take off.

This development came on the heels of similar understanding between the state government and Joseph's Farms on September 18, 2014 for rice production under the watch of Chief Willie Obiano.

Governor Obiano signed on behalf of the state government while oil magnate, Sir Emeka Okwuosa, chairman of Oil Serve Group, signed for Ekcel Farms, in Government House, Awka.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by some of the state commissioners including the former managing director of The Sun Publishing Limited, Mr. Tony Oyima, who is the Commissioner for Information, among others.

Also present were representatives of African Development Bank (ADB), Fidelity Bank Plc, an Italian company, Osterade Engineering and Manufacturing Company that will drive the initiative as well as prominent businessmen in the state like Chief Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson Motors and Dr. Ifeanyi Okoyoe of Jwell Phamacy.

In his remarks, Okwuosa said he was coming home to farm 'in an industrial manner' not to make money but to set up factories to produce tomato and cassava with a view to creating jobs.

'We look forward to producing 250 tons of tomato and 400 tons of cassava when we start. For that to happen, we are hoping to employ 3,500 persons directly and 1,800 persons indirectly.

'The intention is not just to cultivate cassava but to encourage farmers to go into cooperatives and produce cassava so that we can buy from them,' Okwuosa said.

According to him, he intended to set up a model agricultural venture in the state and requested for enabling environment and infrastructure such as electricity, although he assured that his orgnisation would generate electricity from gas.

Responding, Governor Obiano thanked Okwuosa for his initiative, stating that he was a man of strong commitment.

'I have known Sir Okuosa for a long time. Nothing he puts his mind on goes bad. I am happy that he is 'thinking home'. We have repositioned security in Anambra State. This is an opportunity for investors to come here and invest,' the governor said.

He noted that as part of his commitment to attract investors to the state, his administration would give investors certificate of occupancy (C of O) just in four days, saying: 'We want to make Anambra State a place everyone can do business.'

Speaking to newsmen, Okuosa said he was encouraged by the governor's gesture, noting that it was a clear invitation to him and others to come home and invest. He said the signing of the MoU was a giant step towards making Anambra State better.

Expressing optimism that when the industry finally took off, security challenges in the state would be drastically reduced, ha said there would only be calm in the state if people were provided with jobs.

He said that was one area through which he wanted to contribute his quota to the development of the state, insisting that the effort was not to make money.