The Ekiti State government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), have entered into partnership to empower 1,000 farmers in the state for commercial production of Cassava.
For smooth take off of the five -star Cassava Model Farming, Governor Kayode Fayemi has released over 6,000 hectares of land to Nigeria Cassava Growers’ Association, Ekiti state chapter.
Speaking while flagging off the programme in Ado -Ekiti, on Tuesday, Fayemi, represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Folorunso Olabode, said the Cassava production value chain will help in propelling industrial development in the state.
Fayemi said the government had secured a sum of N1.9 billion to prepare lands across various locations in the state to encourage farming, for massive employment and availability of raw materials for agro allied industries.
“The value chain in cassava is inestimable. It has over 50 products. Cassava had graduated from the famous garri to high grade starch, syrup, flakes, fufu paste, cassava bread, biofuel, infact it has transformed into a golden crop that can transform any economy.
“The administration of Dr Fayemi has been rendering helps to farmers. It has encouraged the siting of cassava mill at Ipao Ekiti that is producing 350 metric tonnes of cassava daily.
“Dangote and Stallion Rice Mills are doing great in rice production. The production plants had been installed. About 1,500 hectares of land has been prepared across the state to boost food production with close to two billion naira to be spent on land clearing that will help the farmers.
“The government has facilitated about 6000 bags of fertilisers that were 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.”
Fayemi said 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.
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 economy.
The CBN Chief regretted that the discovery of oil caused a major setback for the agric 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 CBN 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.”
Also speaking, the National President of the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association, Pastor Segun Adewumi, said 25 tractors and other mechanised equipment have been mobilised to Ekiti to begin the scheme.
Adewumi applauded the CBN Governor, Dr Godwin Emefiele and the partnering bank for keying into the dream for massive cassava production.
“Governor Fayemi as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum was at the occasion where the MoU between cassava growers and the CBN was signed. The projection was five hectares per farmer to generate 30 tonnes per hectare.
“Cassava can bring about massive industrial revolution in Nigeria. It can bring prosperity. Cassava can replace oil and diversify our economy if the necessary impetus is provided.”