By Agnes Igwe
In a bid to drive economic growth of Ebonyi State to an enviable height through strategic investment in commerce, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has flagged off the 2019 Trade Fair tagged 9th AGRO- DEF.
Speaking at the opening ceremony at Women Development Centre (WDC), Abakaliki, the President, Ebonyi State Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines And Agriculture, Prof. Kieran Ezike noted that the ninth edition of the Ebonyi Agricultural Development and Commerce Trade Fair with the theme ‘Driving Economic Growth In Ebonyi State Through Strategic Investment In Commerce’ is expected to stimulate higher markets for the envisaged increase in agricultural produce in the state.
Prof. Ezike who stated that government at all levels benefit immensely from trade fairs through enhancement of economic base of the business community from payment of taxes as well as job creation for the teaming youths disclosed that the fair has created not less than 250 ad hoc job opportunities which might even lead to permanent ones.
According to him, it has created increased patronage of businesses, especially for hotels, the transportation sector, local manufacturers, tourism, among other benefits and urged all hands to be on deck in order to build robust organized private sector and business community of the state through chamber of commerce.
However, he expressed displeasure with very poor attendance of local government councils and development centres in the state to the Fair despite the fact that it is dedicated to agro development to expose great potentials of the agrarian state.
He said, “Ebonyi Chamber of Commerce drew courage to venture into hosting this trade fair from the giant strides recorded by His Excellency, Engr. David Umahi, in the development of this state, especially in the area of infrastructure. It is therefore to complement his efforts by attracting investors to avail themselves of the opportunities provided by the massive infrastructural development in the state.”
“The greatest challenge of the chamber in the state is the reluctance among private and public business organizations to join the chamber movement in spite of the tremendous benefits derivable from it, particularly through trade fairs. Business organizations gain instant exposure to wider markets, more contacts, business deals, discover new products, machineries, techniques, technologies, increase patronage etc.”
“Without going into myriads of financial constraints of the chamber, we solicit in strong terms for allocation of land with basic infrastructure and amenities for the building of permanent trade fair complex in the state. Our earlier allocation of land under the Dr. Sam Egwu led administration was converted to other uses by government. We aspire to be like other older states where permanent trade fair complexes have been developed.”
“In spite of all, the business organizations in the state still stick to commodity association which are not only discouraged by law but are also old fashioned in promotion and protection of businesses.”
On his part, the Director General, Ebonyi State Chamber of Commerce, Barr. Hyacinth Uguru described the fair as the most viable direct investment on the rural entrepreneurs that will ensure increase in investments and revenue base which will lead to increase in IGR for both state and LGAs and enjoined LGA chairmen to make good use of the opportunity.
Citizens’ Advocate observed that there were participants from Ghana, Lagos, Jos, Onitsha, Port Harcourt, Aba, Enugu and many more.