By Sola Fanawopo
I was so happy when I read in the news that the Federal Government has commenced the process of establishing clusters for small businesses in the 36 states of the federation and the FCT.
I like business clusters because having clusters can be a useful policy tool that will make our country and some of the states (that are serious about development) to concentrate on new development challenges by pushing for a more balanced growth.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement in Abuja, said the VP spoke on Thursday in Birnin Kebbi at the inauguration of the National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Clinic, the 24th in the series. “One of the Next Level projects which we intend to do for MSMEs is what we call Shared Facilities for MSMEs.
“We plan to have 37 clusters across the nation. This will provide opportunity for MSMEs to walk into fully-equipped clusters with specific facilities for end-to-end production of their products.
“So, the Federal Government has identified a minimum of one cluster per state and in Kebbi State we have the commercial fishing cluster to be commissioned next year for over 9000 MSMEs to access daily.”
It is a no-brainer that Kebbi State has settled for commercial fishing cluster. The state is the home of the famous _Argungun_ Fishing Festival. I look forward to eating packaged Kebbi fish in the next few years. With the network of connected fishing businesses, suppliers, and associates that would be located in the fishing cluster, development and prosperity is assured.
Federal Government’s investments in infrastructure such as railways, motorways, electric grids, and the supply of services such as speacialised schools, research and innovation centres, markets aggregating local productions and bank loans would not only shape the clusters’ growth processes, it would also provide the necessary conditions for further clustering of more businesses in the environment.
As Osun indigene and a-yet-to-be-professional politician in the state, I am obviously more concerned about how my state will explore this noble gesture from the Federal Government at the center. Which MSMEs cluster would my state government choose? I’d love those who are familiar with the state to have positive engagements on this.
As for me, I propose that Osun should choose micro agro processing cluster. As an agrarian state with huge farming population, having such a cluster is one of the best ways to make life meaningful for our people and jump start our depressed economy.
Osun MSMEs Agro Processing Cluster (OMAPC) would have the following: dairy processing that would drive the milking of our dwarf goats, the richest dairy milk in the world, _garri_ and starch processing facility, which will leverage our large cassava farming; palm oil processing that will also source raw materials from the huge palm plantations across the state; rice mill processing to leverage the existing rice cultivating corridors in the state; cashew nut processing that would also leverage the huge cashew plantations across the state and soya bean processing which would leverage huge soya bean farming in the region.
The benefits of Osun MSMEs Agro Processing Cluster cannot be overemphasized. It will not only drive the industrial revolution in the state, it would also jumpstart the livestock agriculture as most of the raw materials that would be generated from the clusters are ready made foods for cattle, goat, pigs, fowl and others.
Where should the cluster be located? The cluster should be located at Dagbolu. Yes, the same spot that our former governor located the failed Osun Commodity Market.
Dagbolu is adjacent the rail line and, such location, therefore, reduces the cost of production associated with energy and transportation. I have been informed that the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has approved the construction of a power transmission substation in the area as far back as 2016. The location of the national grid in Osogbo and the approval of new power transmission would attract investors. This is a huge boost for the planned cluster.
Now the ball isis in the court of my dear governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola. The VP is just a phone call away from you. We must not miss this opportunity of a lifetime.
_Sola Fanawopo writes from Igbajo, Bolorunduro Local Government area of Osun State._
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