Keynote Address Delivered By Dr Charles Omorodion At GBO Conference In Italy 17 August 2019


Chairman, president and members of GBO executive council, distinguish ladies and gentlemen and conference. Today I have the privilege to address this conference on the topic, “restructuring the Great Benin economy for future challenges through agro-allied industrialisation”. In this evidence-based policy paper, I have prudently developed the need for the Great Benin Origins to envision Agro-Allied industries as a veritable instrument for diversifying the Great Benin economy, providing essential raw materials and foods, and creating jobs for the teaming youth population (Ezeobi, 2016).


The thematic topic under discussion at this conference is fairly complex and multidimensional.

The 1st complexity of the topic stems from the definition of Great Benin, which transcends the geographical expression now known as Benin Kingdom, in Edo State. Great Benin covers a wide geographical territory including the present day Edo State, Delta State, part of Bayelsa State, Ondo State, Lagos State and Benin Republic.


The 2nd complexity of the thematic topic stems from the technical conceptualisation of industrialisation. Industrialisation is by nature complex, multi-faceted and multi-paradigmatic. Industrialisation is complex because it can be observed, deconstructed and explained from different notional 2 standpoints, including the manufacturing standpoint, technological standpoint, service-based economy standpoint and agro-allied standpoint (Simandan, 2009).


Nonetheless, the standpoint adopted in this paper is swayed by the eighteen century’s economist, David Ricardo (1817) classical theory of comparative advantage (Eaton and Kortum, 2012; Farhad, 2015). Ricardo’s theory explained that a country, state or region should concentrate on producing the good and service in which they are more efficient at producing so as to derive a comparative advantage rather than Smith’s (1776) absolute advantage (Smith, Shiozawa, 2016).


What is agro-allied industry? Agro-based industries are those industries which depend on agricultural products as raw materials in order to operate successfully. The positive feature of using Agrobased industries developmental gestalt and strategy to accelerate the great Benin economic growth is apt (Harsh, 2019) because:


 Agro-based industries are comparatively easy to establish and they provide income in the rural areas with less investment

 These industries facilitate effective and efficient utilisation of agricultural raw materials.

 Agro-based industries transmit an industrial – culture in rural areas, thus bringing about modernisation and innovation in agriculture.

 Some of the agro-based industries like processed food and food preparations have tremendous export potentials.

 Agro-based industries can be set up on either profit or co-operative basis ensuring participation of the people in the development process. The aforementioned factors underscore the importance of extending agriculture beyond the provision of food for man and feeds for animals, to encompass the provision of basic raw materials for industrial purpose, such that, other products which are not directly utilised could be transformed into working materials.


Edo State agro-allied potentials Edo State is ergonomically blessed from the Northern part, through the central, all the way to the southern part of the state. This means that agricultural products can be produced for local consumption and profitably harnessed for exports.

Edo State is located around the tropical region of Nigeria and enjoys favourable climate condition. The main soil types in the State are reddish-yellow kind of ferralsols, dish clay, lathyritic clay, and fine hydromorphic soils. The State is blessed with a mixed wet and dry season’s macroclimates, thus, making it favourable for agricultural production.


These factors are major stimulants for large-scale profitably commercial farms to thrive in Edo State.

The 4th Government and investors can spatially target policy at ensuring all local governments in Etsako, Esan and Owan concentrates on rice production while all local governments of Esan Owan, Orhionmwon, Akoko-Edo, Ovia and Uhunmwode concentrates on cultivating crops such as Cocoa, Rubber, Fruits, Groundnuts, Plantain, Pineapple, Yam, Vegetables, Tomatoes, and Cashew etc. Based on the same permutation,

Edo South local government areas can also specialise in the production and processing of tree crops like kola nuts, sweet potatoes, cocoa etc. in Ovia. This means that each local government area should concentrate on maximising the production and processing of the crops in which they have the greatest or comparative advantage including rice in Ekpoma, cassava in Edo South and Edo Central etc. Overall objective is to increase economies of scale, employment, agricultural output and agro-allied industries revenues in the State. This will also help to ensure the state population is more economically prosperous.

The overall findings from my investigation suggest that agriculture and agro-allied sector desperately needs local, national and international direct investment and infrastructural development in Edo State. The state also has a substantial animal husbandry industry, with cows, goats, pigs, rabbits and sheep being the main products (Onwualu, 2010; 2012).Agriculture is the leading contributor to the GDP in the economy, despite the dominant role of crude oil (Dittoh, 1994).


The 5th Edo State Agriculture and Agro-allied development policies The evidence shows that Edo State has developed several friendly agricultural policies towards investors who are ready to do business in the state (Omoregbee and Ekpebu, 2013). The current Edo State government, under the leadership of Mr. Godwin Obaseki is equally committed to the development a revolutionary agricultural policy and creating agricultural hub policy in its bid to take agriculture to new heights and with a view of driving the process of employment generation for the teaming youths in the state (Amadi, 2017). Governor Obaseki is committed to providing the necessary support to fast-track mechanised and commercial farming, including establishing a Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme. The governor believes agriculture is a veritable instrument for creating wealth and employment for the people. That is why the state government hired companies for land clearing, one of the most expensive and critical aspects of agriculture.

Why restructure the Great Benin economy for future challenges? Nigeria mono-economy crude oil equally relegated Agriculture to agrarian and selfsubsistence farming. Oil is predicted to run out in the next few decades. Similarly, advances in electric powered automobile have pushed Western European countries and the Americans to phase our gasoline propelled automobiles by 2030 (Obrecht & Denac, 2013; Lezak, 2017; Smith, 2017; Page, 2019).


The 6th The abovementioned factors has further strengthened the necessity to the urgently explore other alternative revenue sources from crude oil (Efosa, 2016). The new economic stimulus initiative includes the acceleration of agricultural revolution in Edo State. These timely concomitances have spurred the Great Benin Origins in diaspora to promote investments in agriculture and agro-allied industries. However, in order to use agriculture to power Edoland industrialisation a strong public-private sector partnership is required. The capacity and necessary investment for increasing small farm holders’ productivity and simultaneously enhancing their contribution to regional and national value chains is also necessary (Oji-Okoro, 2011). As a matter of urgency,

Great Benin Origins and Edo State governments needs to establish policies that can accelerate public and private investments in agriculture, stimulate innovation and reduce the associated risks. Edo State economy is predominantly agricultural driven and agriculture is likewise fundamental to the socio-economic development the State. Edo State agricultural endowments include arable crops (rice, maize, cassava, sweet potatoes and yam), tree crops (kola nuts, cocoa, oil palm), fishery resources and the large water bodies, forestry (teak, melina, etc), small and large animals (poultry, pigs, goat, sheep and cattle). Based on the principles of comparative advantage, the preponderance of crop -fishery – animal ecology provides the basic framework for developing agroallied industries in the State.

What is now required is development paradigm that is anchored on productivity increases and resource maximisation. This essentially entails getting necessary inputs to small producers targeting the under-listed crop and production profile:


The 7th  Agro-industries for processing grains and other cereals

 Cassava, sweet potato, yam, and other root and tuber produce for processing into food products such as flour, chips, flakes, biscuits, etc, or as sources of raw materials for animal feeds and use by starch industries

 More cocoa-processing industries to be established, but whose role is not limited to turning out cocoa butter but includes processing cocoa beans into confectioneries, beverages, butter and other allied products

 Kola nuts processing into wines, industrial inputs

 Aquaculture for increased fishery output

 Establishment of kilns for fish processing and drying

 Encouragement of more poultry for egg and poultry meat

 Goat, sheep and cattle production  Meat processing factories

 Replacing, replanting old tree groves and establishing new ones for meeting the ever-rising demand for logwood required for housing and industrial construction needs

 Promoting better wood harvesting and utilization

 Encouraging more and better run saw mills, furniture-making factories, etc. The list is almost endless, and includes other items that would normally not have attracted one’s attention. The research undertaken in this evidence-based policy paper identified the ten most relevant agro-based industries potentials in Edo State in particular.


The 8th These include industries are:

1. Textile industry

2. Vegetable Oil Industry

3. Rubber Industry

4. Flour and Grain Milling industry

5. Animal feeds industry

6. Poultry industry

7. Fruit Juice industry

8. Rice milling industry

9. Dairy industry

10.Confectionary industry

Agriculture in development The central issue here is recognition of the central role of agriculture in the provision of the most basic essential of life, food. A State or persons that are not able to feed themselves are not about ready to develop. It is necessary to invest in agriculture and put money into it. That is why the role of government is so important, especially for encouraging the private sector to invest in agro-industries through the creation of an enabling environment.

The contributions of Agriculture in the development of the economy include the following:

 Provision of food

 Employment generation

 Income generation

 Foreign exchange earnings


The 9th  Provision of the market for the goods of modern industries

 Base for industrialisation Why agriculture has lost its former glory in Nigeria Numerous challenges and constraints that have impeded agriculture developed in Nigerian (Onwualu, 2009; 2010) include:

 Lack of basic physical infrastructure and essential services

 Lack of appropriate agricultural production and processing technology

 Difficulties in accessing agriculture credit and investment facilities

 Apathy towards agricultural investment

 Poor entrepreneurship and Agricpreneurship development

 Policy issues and challenges

 Weak linkages between agriculture, industry and marketing How Benin diaspora can impact agro-allied industries in Edoland The Nigerian government proposed to establish more agro-industrial zones to process agricultural commodities necessary to take advantage of the vast business opportunities in the agro-allied industries (Onwualu, 2009; 2010; 2012).


This policy 10 initiative is predicated on the backdrop of increasing unmet market demands, as well as under-realised agriculture potentials. Great Benin Origins’ members residing overseas can explore further opportunities for Agro-allied industrial development, including:

 Recognising and strengthening of the potentials of the Great Benin Origins in Diaspora to act as lobbyists on behalf of Agro-Allied Industries and stakeholders in the international markets. This should involve facilitating Agroallied marketing board

 Utilising the skills and knowledge of the Great Benin Origins in Diaspora to crossfertilise Edoland agro-allied industrial development policy, especially where Edoland development can be influenced by international agencies. This should include establishing Edo State Agro-allied International chambers of commerce and industries.

 Providing information and market intelligence to foster the development of a database on agro-allied industrial experts in Diaspora and Edoland.

 Sharing of skills and knowledge with Great Benin Origins at home in the interest of agro-allied industrial development in Edoland. This may involve establishing Agripreneurship Skills Acquisition Centre in Benin City to provide capacity building and support to prospective and existing agro-allied entrepreneurs in partnership with institutions like Edo Polytechnic.


The 11th

 Developing both national and international partnerships to setup Agro-Allied Skills Acquisition Centre in Benin City to provide agripreneurship capacity building and support to prospective and existing agro-allied entrepreneurs or/and to develop a collaborative partnership with institutions like Edo Polytechnic Usen to establish an Agro-Allied Industries Research and Development Centre (AIRADC).


 GBO can work with stakeholders and foreign organisations to establish Edo State agro – allied industrial development programme (EDAIDP (Adekanye, 2004). The EDAIDP will harness local resources for development to enable agriculture to become a tool for agro-allied industrial development in Edo State (Adekanye, 2004). Conclusions In conclusion, the evidence presented in this paper, clearly shows that agriculture is a major source of food consumed by man, provides feed for animals, and raw materials for agro-allied industries (Edoumiekumo and Audu, 2009). The Agro-allied industries depend largely on agriculture for their raw materials (Oji-Okoro, 2011). The Agro-allied industries are vital and integral ingredient in the Great Benin economic renewal and growth (Ezeobi, 2016).


The Agro-foods industry can also play a pivotal role in the creation of income and employment opportunities in Edoland. The agro-processing sector is by far the most significant component in the agro-food industry and covers a broad area of 12 postharvest activities, packaged agricultural raw materials, industrial and technology intensive processing of intermediate goods and the fabrication of final products derived from agriculture (UNDP, 2012; Central Bank of Nigeria, 2016). Recommendations Great Benin Origins strategy for developing Edoland agro-based industries should consist of the following ingredients:


 Edo State should provide financial and technical support to enable farmers access mechanized farm machinery, inputs and technology

 Agro-based industries growth and expansion should form an inseparable part of the overall programme of economic and industrial development of the Edo State.

 To facilitate production, preservation of commodities and make local industries competitive. Edo State government should provide farmers / agro- allied industries access to adequate power supply, water supply, storage facilities and affordable transportation services.

 In order to maximise the growth of agro-based industries, both backward and forward linkages should be encouraged and supported in Edoland,

 A new institutional framework and co-operative network should be developed with a view to harmonizing the interests of local producers, processors and 13 consumers. This will remove excessive dependence on private rent seeking multinationals.

 Advanced agro-based industries management and marketing methods should be introduced in Edo State to target exporting and international trade.

 Edo State should adopt export-led agricultural growth model by intensifying support for agricpreneurs who want to venture into exporting and international trade



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