The Ekiti Government, in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is to empower no fewer than 1,000 cassava farmers to ensure increased cultivation of the commodity in the state.
Speaking on Tuesday at the launching of the programme in Ado-Ekiti, Gov Kayode Fayemi, represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Folorunso Olabode, said that the cassava production value chain would speed up industrial development of the state.
Fayemi released over 6,000 hectares of land to the Cassava Growers Association in the state to ensure the smooth take off of the programme.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Fayemi stated that the state government had secured N1.9billion to prepare lands across various locations in the state.
According to the governor, this is to encourage farming for massive employment and availability of raw materials for agro-allied industries.
“The value chain in cassava is inestimable and have over 50 products.
“Cassava has graduated from the ordinary famous garri to high-grade starch, syrup, flakes, fufu paste, cassava bread, biofuel, in fact, it has transformed into a golden crop that can transform any economy.
“This administration has been rendering helps to farmers. It has encouraged the citing of cassava mill at Ipao-Ekiti, that is producing 350 metric tonnes of cassava daily.
“Dangote and Stallone Rice Mills are doing great in rice production. The production plants have been installed.
“About 1,500 hectares of land has also been prepared across the state to boost food production, with close to N2billion to be spent on land clearing to help the farmers.
“The government has facilitated about 6,000 bags of fertiliser that would be sold to farmers at subsidised rate.
“The fact that Ekiti is one of the five pilot states showed that our efforts were being noticed at the national level,” the governor said.
Fayemi said that Ekiti played a prominent role in the formation of the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Amotekun, to ward off destruction of farmlands by marauding herders and to discourage them from abandoning the farm, out of fear.
Also speaking, the CBN Branch Controller in Ekiti, Alhaji Ganiyu Atobatele, described agriculture as the largest employer of labour in the country, saying no effort must be spared to revamp the sector and return it as the mainstay of the nation’s economy.
The CBN official stated that the discovery of oil caused a major setback for the agriculture sector in Nigeria.
“Inability to meet our agriculture local demands has affected our foreign reserves and foreign exchange, causing free fall of our currency in the international market.
“Decreased production and increasing population forced the CBN to intervene to improve on a large scale farming, to give farmers access to funds and equipment at subsidised rate, for massive production.
“The CBN is protecting the cassava value chain. The MoU signed include land utilisation, which specified five hectares per farmer, for higher production and to increase annual revenue and generate raw materials for industrial development
“The apex bank will make credit available to farmers under five-star cassava project. The target is 30 metric tonnes per hectares and all activities will be mechanised.
“About 47,406 metric tonnes of cassava was produced in 2014 with bulk of it consumed.
“But with our intervention, it can be processed further to produce other products that will help the economy through employment generation, food security and foreign exchange earnings,” he said.
In his address, the National President of the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association, Pastor Segun Adewumi, said that 25 tractors and other mechanised equipment had been mobilised to Ekiti, to begin the scheme.
Adewumi commended the CBN Governor, Dr Godwin Emefiele and the partnering bank, for keying into the dream for massive cassava production.