Ekiti state government has released over 6000 hectares of land to the Cassava Growers Association in the state to ensure the smooth take-off of an empowerment programme for 1000 cassava farmers by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in conjunction with the state government.
Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti state government while speaking at the launching of the programme in Ado-Ekiti, said that the initiative will ensure increased cultivation of the commodity in the state and that the cassava production value chain would speed up industrial development of the state.
Fayemi, who was represented by Folorunso Olabode, the state’s Commissioner for Agriculture stated that the state government had secured N1.9billion to prepare lands across various locations in the state.
The initiative according to the Governor is to encourage farming for massive employment and availability of raw materials for agro-allied industries.
“The value chain in cassava is inestimable and has 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 farmers.
He said that the state has encouraged the citing of cassava mill at Ipao-Ekiti, which is producing 350 metric tonnes of cassava daily.
“Dangote and Stallon Rice Mills are doing great in rice production. The production plants have been installed. About 1,500 hectares of land have 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,” he said.
The Governor also stated that the state 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.
Segun Adewumi, National President of the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA) said that 25 tractors and other mechanised equipment had been mobilised to Ekiti, to begin the scheme.
Adewumi commended Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor and the partnering bank, for keying into the dream for massive cassava production.
Ganiyu Atobatele, CBN Branch Controller in Ekiti, 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.
He stated that the discovery of oil caused a major setback for the agriculture sector in Nigeria and that the inability to meet the nation’s agricultural affected the foreign reserves and foreign exchange, causing free fall of Nigeria’s currency in the international market
“The inability to meet our agricultural 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.
He added that the CBN is protecting the cassava value chain and that 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 the 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 were produced in 2014 with the 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.