Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin Kebbi
The Kebbi State government has declared that the state would soon become economically viable. Apart from its rice revolution policy, which has turned many rice farmers to commercial farmers, cassava and sugarcane farmers in the state might soon start smiling to the bank with bumper harvest and double profits. Right now, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Kebbi State is finalising plans on the extraction of ethanol from cassava and sugarcane.
The recent implementation of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the Federal Government through NNPC and Kebbi State government on the production of ethanol in the state has created a market for cassava and sugarcane farmers. Out of 47,000 hectares of land acquired for the project, 32,000 hectares were designated for production of cassava in Gwazawa town in Dankowasagu Local Government Area, Zuru Emirate. Over 20,000 farmers would be fully engaged in the cultivation of the crop, it was gathered.
The Federal Government, through the NNPC, had in November 2017, signed an MoU, which was initiated by Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and the late Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, in Abuja. Their targets include extracting 84 million litres of ethanol from sugarcane in the state per day and extraction of ethanol from cassava tubers.
Governor Bagudu had said that the partnership was part of the state government’s efforts to complement the economy diversification policy of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. He had commended the NNPC on its visions on the bio-fuels project and promised that Kebbi State would do its best to ensure that the objectives on the project came to reality.
While speaking with Daily Sun on the breakthrough on the project, Chairman of Kebbi State Standing Committee on Bio-fuels, Professor Muhammed Abubakar Kaoje said the ongoing extractions of ethanol from cassava alone in Gwazawa town, Dankowasagu Local Government Area of the state would be generating billions of naira in Internally Generated Revenue(IGR) annually for the state if the project works out to its maximum level.
Kaoje, former Minister of Science and Technology, explained: “We are not producing bio-fuel for the sake of producing bio- fuel ; but we had sat and done the calculations, and our expectation is, if the project is completed and taken off, it will supplement the state IGR with billions of naira if we achieve our maximum target annually.
“It is our estimate and it could be more than that; and I am just talking about the cassava. But the bio-fuel from sugar cane is also going to contribute more substantially to the revenue of the state. That is the whole idea: to make the state self-sufficient financially,” he said.
Kaoje said the committee had started the process of installing machinery that has the capacity to generate alternative source of power to the host community as well as serving the production of ethanol instead of relying on hydro power. He noted that contacts have already ben made on the installation of the machinery but said the COVID-19 pandemic was slowing down the pace of the processes.
He explained that Nigeria had the potential to commence production of ethanol in large quantity, especially from the northern part of the country, which, he said, had a comparative advantage of sugarcane production.
He added that the project was expected to be completed before the end of Governor Bagudu’s tenure in office. When completed, he said, it would boost the economy of the state and create huge employment opportunities for the people.