The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Nanono, has inaugurated a Cassava Plant at Afam in Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers. Mr Ezeaja Ikemefuna, the Chief Information Officer in the ministry, made this known in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.
The minister during the inauguration on Thursday said the processing plant would address challenges of value addition of the crop in the value chain sub sector. He noted that the plant would also promote adoption and use of 10 per cent high quality cassava flour (HQCF) in bread and confectionery businesses, so as to reduce wheat importation and conserve foreign exchange earnings to meet other needs.
â€˜â€™Rivers is among the top 5 Cassava producing states. It is therefore of necessity and thoughtful on the part of government that cares for its farmers to embark on project of this nature that will enhance value addition and guarantee employment to the people. â€œThis factory, when fully operational, will be fed with output from 3,000 farmers within the farming communities as well as other farmers far and wide from neighbouring communities. â€œThe processing plant will also cultivate thousands of hectares of cassava to ensure uninterrupted supplies of raw materials.
â€œIn all these arrangements, massive jobs will be created and over 20,000 farm families will earn income for enhanced livelihood and improved standard of living. â€œThis milestone achievement of the government of Rivers will promote export substitution, job creation, economic diversification as well as food and nutrition security. â€œThis is in tandem with the agricultural policy put in place by the present Federal Government poised to build agribusiness ecosystem that will address challenges in the agricultural sector in partnership with all stakeholders,â€ he said.
He said the outcome of the continued use of the processing plant would lead to increased incomes and livelihood. The minister said this would ensure healthy cassava food processing activities and serve as a new page to achieve the desired result in the 10 per cent cassava flour inclusion policy as well as food and nutrition security.
He commended greatly, the activities of Rivers Government under the leadership of Gov. Nyesom Wike, who had constructed the cassava plant as a landmark contribution toward ensuring food security and value addition in the country. Wike had earlier said the primary focus of his administration was to diversify the economy of the state from oil and gas to agricultural development by providing financial support and inputs to smallholder farmers in the state.
The governor assured the people that the state government would provide financial grants, seeds, and inputs to the cassava smallholder farmers which would increase production, create more jobs and boost revenue. The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, said CBN was committed to financially assist through provision of grants that would fast track growth in the agricultural sector, which was in line with President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s administration.
The Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Fred Kpakoi, said the state government had invested massively in agricultural development of the state. He added that the Cassava Plant would create jobs for its teeming youths, ensure food security and increase internally generated revenue in cassava value chain. In his presentation, the Managing Director, Rivers State Cassava Processing Plant, Ruben Giesen, said the company would provide jobs for over 3,000 smallholder farmers in the cassava value chain and also provide quality cassava.
He appreciated the governor for his policies in the agricultural sector which were geared toward empowering people of the state. â€œThe processing plant is expected to off-take cassava tubers for not less than 3000 smallholder farmers in the state with an installed capacity to process 45,000 metric tons of cassava tuber. â€œIt is also expected to produce 12,500 metric tons of high-quality cassava flour, itâ€™s huge and considered another giant milestone in ensuring agricultural opportunities have been delivered to the people,â€ said Giesen.