Welcome Address (Agric. Sector Meeting)

Welcome Address (Agric. Sector Meeting)

WELCOME ADDRESS OF THE HEAD OF SECRETARIAT OF THE RIVERS STATE PARTNERS FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (RSPSD) MR. I. DIENYE PEPPLE AT THE INAUGURAL AGRIC SECTOR MEETING OF THE PLATFORM

Protocols of the day,

It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this first ever sector meeting of the Rivers State Partners for Sustainable Development. As many of you already know, the Rivers State Partners for Sustainable Development (RSPSD) is a partnership platform for all stakeholders involved in development activities in Rivers State.  Since inception the platform has been facilitating and managing collaborations for the sustainable development of Rivers State. At its last general meeting held in December last year, members decided that this year emphasis should be placed on sector and bloc meetings. We propose to organize 4 sector, 6 bloc and 4 quarterly general meetings this year, 2015.

We have started today with the Agricultural sector meeting. The choice of the agric. sector as a starting point is deliberate. The choice is informed by the fact that we know that many of the organizations here present have already started sharing thoughts – talking to each other and probably taking steps towards joint actions. Preaching to you is more like preaching to the converted.

The second reason that informed the choice of the agric. sector as a starting point is the important role that agriculture plays in development. The impact of this important role has not been felt in Rivers State and will not if we continue to operate in the solitary fashion we have been operating in. For example, the African Growth & Opportunities Act signed by the United States Congress in the year 2000 will expire in September this year but has not benefitted Nigeria in any way. Why is that so? …. It is because no one organization in this country has the capacity to take advantage of its provisions. It would require concerted collaborative efforts to take advantage of such provisions – Collaborations that involve both Government and non-governmental organizations.

Many people are used to the concept of PPP – Public Private Partnership, but very few are used to the concept of PSD – Partnership for Sustainable Development. Some who know the two think they are the same thing and can be used interchangeably. The fact is that PPPs are partnerships for business, while PSDs are partnerships for development. The later supplies greater good than the former. It is more far reaching and more impactful. It is also more sustainable. It requires Government MDAs providing policies, Programmes and supports that non-governmental organizations and businesses can leverage on and broaden their scopes and spheres of operation leading to a symbiosis of business and development. Small holder operators also benefit from this arrangement as they can produce more and their produce inputs into the whole that is jointly processed or exported. That is why we are here today.

We expect the big players to lay before us a summary of their policies and Programmes. So we can look at all of them together and see the big picture and what partnership investment opportunities they offer both for business and for development of the sector and the State at large.

We hope to leave here knowing when to meet again to harness the opportunities we shall identify today.

So I urge you to relax and participate fully as you may be contributing to something that may produce the great future we all desire. Thank you and welcome.

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