The Economic Empowerment Department (EED) is charged with the responsibility of formulating, coordinating and implementing policies, programmes and projects on Agriculture, Agricultural Businesses & Agro-processing and other Value Chain activities in the Niger Delta Region.
It also facilitates the development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises aimed at improving standards of living by employment generation, wealth creation and curtailing youth restiveness.
Structure of the Department
The Department is headed by a Director with a complement of 35 staff. It has the following 4 Divisions:
(i) Agricultural Training & Support Services (ATSS);
(ii) Fisheries and Aquaculture (F&A);
(iii) Agricultural Commerce and Small Business (CSB); and
(iv) Agro-Processing and other Value Chain (IND).
The functions of the Department are as follows:
(i) Training and retraining of farmers on modern agricultural practices for effective and sustainable agricultural development and food security in the Niger Delta Region;
(ii) Facilitating agricultural trainings for youths and women;
(iii) Facilitating the empowerment of trained youths and women;
(iv) Promoting the growth and development of key agricultural crops;
(v) Promoting the establishment of agro-processing cottage industries;
(vi) Promoting the development of aquaculture, especially small, medium and large scale fish farming projects;
(vii) Supporting Cooperative Societies and other groups to establish and manage their own agricultural enterprises;
(viii) Facilitating the establishment of Industrial Parks;
(ix) Promoting entrepreneurial skills for micro, small and medium support enterprises;
(x) Collaborating with other relevant government and non-governmental organizations for the promotion of regional agricultural, commercial and industrial development;
(xi) Monitoring and evaluation of programmes and projects undertaken by the Ministry in Agriculture and other related activities; and
(xii) Supporting and mentoring of trained youths/women in agricultural enterprises.
The Department has recorded some achievements as follows:
(i) Establishment of 7nos. Cassava Processing Plants: a. In 2013, the Department facilitated the establishment of 7no. Cassava Processing Plants in some communities in Bayelsa and Delta States. These communities are: Asamabiri, Amasoma, Otuosegha, Odi and Zarama in Bayelsa State; Ogriagbene and Ogbobagbene in Delta State; and b. In 2014, 9 nos. Cassava Processing plants were awarded for construction in the Niger Delta States. 2 nos. of the plants located in Bayelsa and Ondo States have been successfully completed and paid for.
(ii) Training and Empowerment of Youths and Women: a. In 2013, 124 youth and women from Rivers State were trained on Snailry and Chalk Production and empowered with Starter-Packs and Laptops to enable them establish their own enterprises; and b. In 2014, another 15 youths and women from Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency in Abia State were trained on Snail Farming, Chalk Production and Confectionary Making. The trainees were empowered with Starter-Packs and Seed Money to enable them establish their own entreprises.
(iii) Empowerment of Trained Non-Militant Youths and Women: 89 non-militant youths and women that were trained in Agriculture in the Republic of Benin and Israel in 2011, with each one empowered by the Department with the total sum of N1,500,000.00 to enable them establish their own agricultural businesses; and
(iv) Periodic Mentoring of the Empowered Youths and Women: In 2014, the Department conducted mentoring for the 89 youths and women empowered by the Ministry to support the growth of their businesses through Refresher Courses and Hands-on workshops, seminars and modern techniques in Agricultural practices.
The on-going projects being handled by the Department include the following:
(i) Contract Execution: In 2014, the Department awarded a total 17no. projects at a total contract sum of N1,340,154,437.35 (One billion, three hundred and forty million, one hundred and fifty- four thousand, four hundred and thirty-seven Naira, thirty-five kobo) only. Three (3) of the projects (Cassava Processing Plants in Bayelsa and Ondo States and Skill Acquisition and empowerment in Arochukwu/Ohafia, Abia State) have been completed and paid for at the total sum of N189,245,370.08 (One hundred and eighty-nine million, two hundred and forty-five thousand, three hundred and seventy Naira and eight Kobo), while the sum of N58,000,000.00 (Fifty eight million Naira) only was paid as mobilization fee for Skill Acquisition and empowerment programme in Bayelsa State. Therefore, the sum total of payments made for the 2014 projects is N247,245,370.08 (Two hundred and forty-seven million, two hundred and forty -five thousand, three hundred and seventy Naira and eight Kobo) only. The total outstanding liabilities of the Department stand at N1,035,609,067.27 (One billion, and thirty-five million, six hundred and nine thousand, and sixty-seven Naira, twenty – seven Kobo) only;
(ii) Empowerment of Youths and Women in Agricultural Enterprises: The Department, through the Ministry, is currently collaborating with the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) as Fund Managers, in the disbursement of the sum of N156,000,000.00 (One hundred and fifty –six million Naira) only as empowerment to 130 youths and women that were trained in various agricultural enterprises by the Ministry in Israel in 2014;
(iii) Establishment of Turkey OSTIM Model Industrial Cluster: The Ministry is currently partnering with OSTIM Industrial Cluster of Turkey, the Government of Akwa Ibom State and some private investors for the establishment of an OSTIM Model Industrial Park in the Region. Site for the project has been identified at Ibaka community in Akwa Ibom State and a Consultant engaged for the project. This is to be reviewed.