N20M Toothpicks, Pencil Industry Kicks Off In Akure

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By; ODEYEMI SAMUEL, Akure.
The National Directorate of Employment, NDE, in collaboration with a Non Governmental Organisation, NGO, has expended over N20 million to establish an Industry to produce Tooth Picks in Akure, the Ondo state capital.
The Industry, which is first of its kind in West Africa, is expected to produce Tooth picks and pencils as well as creating employment market for the youths and also eradicate poverty.
The NDE, which is a Federal Government Agency is assisting a team of university graduates with both Financial and moral support to generate a Small Scale Industry that could employ 30 people at a shift.
According to the Acting Director General of NDE, Mr. Kunle Obayan, the Directorate’s area of assistance is in the area of sourcing for loan and markets to boost the initiative of the young graduates.
According to Obayan, ”that the economy is facing serious challenges is no longer news, what should make news now are the efforts being made to fix the economy”.
He disclosed how a group of young graduates approached the National  Directorate of Employment with the proposal to set up  cottage industries to produce tooth picks and pencils to eradicate importation of the commodity.
His words, ”the NDE has provided the enabling environment for the establishment of the cottage industry by providing the start up capital, a loan which is expected to be repaid over a period of time”.
The NDE boss said, the industry which is probably, the first of its kind will put an end to several millions of dollars that are spent annually on the importation of tooth picks and pencils.
The Central bank of Nigeria, he said, no longer provides foreign exchange for the importation of tooth picks, an indication that the viability of the project is not in doubt..
Obayan enjoined Nigerians to change their life style and adapt to the dictates of the current socio–economic realities has come since the nation will no longer import tooth picks from China or any other country the world over.
The expectation of the Directorate, he said, is that the industry will be able to provide 30 immediate direct factory jobs and another 150 indirect jobs within the first six months of operation.
He appealed to the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA to expeditiously approve the application for waiver of End User Certificate, ECU for ” Urea Forldehyde Resin Powder, which is an essential input to the production of pencils using waste paper.
In his welcome address, the South West Zonal Coordinator of NDE, Engr. Adegbite Suares noted that the project is the first of its kind in the South Western part of the country, adding that history is being rekindled and ignited with the launching of the multi million project in Ondo state.
His words, ”for many years to come, researchers will be referring to this industry and Ondo state a legacy that the South West people could be proud of there by promoting the state to a greater level”.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry in Ondo state, who was represented by Mr. Oyediji gave kudos to the initiators of the industry and the NDE’s gesture to assist the Youths.
While welcoming the industry to Ondo state, Oyediji regretted that there was not a single tooth picks industry in spite of the large availability of teak forests which could serve as raw material in the state.
While counseling the Youths to create an account Department which will enable them generate maximum profit, he urged them to start to think for other areas they could record a break through by seeking information and financial assistance.
Also, the Royal Father of the day, the Olujare of Ijare, Oba Engr. Adebamigbe Oluwagbemigun prayed for the lives of the initiators of the project and called in other Youths to emulate the leader of the group, Mr. Samuel Babatunde.
The project facilitator, Mr. Samuel Babatunde noted that he took the challenge upon himself to heed to the clarion call of President Mohamed Buhari that the Youths should think of what they can do for the Nigeria.
He commended the NDE for providing both Moral and Financial assistance to enable them become employers of labour against all odds that characterise the economy.
Babatunde assured that there was no wastage in the process of production as every ”passive waste”  is turned to a raw material for further production.
The industry was however Commissioned by the Acting Director General of NDE, Mr. Kunle Obayan who later led other dignitaries round to inspect the factory.

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