In continuing efforts towards assisting the process of promoting cohesion and restoration of livelihoods for people in areas affected by farmer-herdsmen conflict, and the need to find inclusive and lasting solutions to such clashes, which have proven intractable, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has restated its commitment towards supporting such efforts of the government of Benue State and other affected regional zones in the country.
These interventions bring together the skills and knowledge of a diverse set of stakeholders across the state actors, partners across the humanitarian and development sectors, community leaders, private sector partners and young Nigerians, collaborating towards understanding the grievances of affected parties to bridge the gap through peace and reconciliation efforts needed in rebuilding and restoring livelihoods of affected communities.
One of such interventions led by the Benue State government with support from the UNDP and its partners is the set-up of the Benue Centre for Enterprise Development and Innovation (BENCEDI) with the aim of addressing some of these challenges faced in the state through the promotion of youth inclusion and empowerment through digital skills and technology training as well as MSMEs support for job creation.
In a bid to positively impact the local economy and maximize the resources available within the state, the UNDP and its partners have thus begun efforts aimed at repositioning the BENCEDI centre as a strategic regional hub for the development of Agricultural Value-Chains for economic prosperity.
Thus the Agro-business Innovation Hub at the BENCEDI centre is proposed as a joint partnership between UNDP Nigeria, and the Benue state government to drive synergies between corporate partners, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), start-ups, research institutes and institutes of higher learning. These collaborations are aimed at creating an enabling environment to drive innovation and collaboration among companies in the agri-food sector and to bring more developments from the Hub to market. With support from state and private sector partners, the Agro Hub will be able to fully explore and maximize the potential of Benue State as the ‘Food Basket of the Nation’. This will be achieved by building sustainable economic value chains across the agricultural sector, and investments in tech-and non-enabled agribusinesses and entrepreneurship across the state.