FG to establish 18 cassava processing industries

The Federal Government will collaborate with the private sector to establish 18 cassava processing industries with machines that can process 240 tonnes of cassava per day.

President, Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA), Olusegun Adewunmi, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Thursday.

Mr. Adewunmi said this was in line with the Agricultural Transformation Agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan's Administration, pointing out that the processing industries would create market for cassava.

The aim of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda is to generate employment and transform the country into a leading player in global food markets to grow wealth for millions of farmers. It was designed to make the agricultural sector a business project to promote private investment in agriculture. It will also execute integrated projects through value chain processes, generate employment, and transform Nigeria into a net exporter of agricultural commodities.

Mr. Adewunmi commended the Federal Government for designing the agenda, adding that it has allowed farmers to form partnerships with banks and not “a master-servant relationship like it used to be in the past.”

“For the first time, a farmer can sit down and make a programme of his own and it is acceptable to the bank and to the government. In the past, it was the ministry that will make the programme, but we are glad it is no longer like that. The agenda is working; it is giving us freedom,'' he said.

He, however, noted that cassava growers would have to work really hard to be able to meet the requirement of the processing industries, especially as the country had started exporting cassava grits and chips to China.

Mr. Adewunmi also said that the issue of cassava glut was being addressed by the Federal Government's agricultural programme. According to him, glut is an act of flooding the market with excess goods so that supply exceeds demand.

The President of the NCGA stated that the membership of his association has increased to more than one million farmers and would increase to more than 10 million in the next six months.