The Director-General of the council, Prof. Peter Onwualu, said in Abuja that all was set for the take-off of the project. He recalled that the council had completed a baseline study on raw materials available in each ward in the country in 2012.
According to him, the council was able to complete the baseline study on the potential and existing clusters in about 9,000 wards across the country.
“In Bayelsa, we are working on plantain flour, oil palm, fish drying; and contract for the machines needed to have been awarded since last year and are now being fabricated. We believe that this will create over 500 jobs, and the number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the state are up to 30,” he said, adding that results from research institutes would also be used by the SMEs.
Onwualu said that the council has commissioned a cluster project on cassava production in Umuahia, Abia, and a number of projects on oil palm cluster in Anambra.
“We were able to cover four locations in Anambra. We deployed small-scale machines for processing palm fruit to palm oil and palm kernel; this is part of the cluster formation we are doing to build capacity,” he said. He added that the council would organise a training programme on clusters for each state in the country.
“Our target is to have at least one training in each state in Nigeria depending on the available raw materials in that state. We were able to cover 28 states for the training; each of them focused on different raw materials,” he said.
The Director-General listed some of the focused raw materials to include carline, cassava, granite, tomatoes processing, and stone cutting. Onwualu said out that the council has trained more than 1,000 women on improved methods of processing tomatoes and fruits in Taraba.