Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Ekiti State Government in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has entered into partnership to empower 1,000 farmers in the state for commercial production of cassava.
For smooth take off of the cassava model farming, the state Governor, Kayode Fayemi, has released over 6,000 hectares of land to the Nigeria Cassava Growers’ Association, Ekiti State chapter.
Speaking while flagging off the programme in Ado Ekiti yesterday, Fayemi, who was represented by the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Folorunso Olabode, said the cassava production value chain would 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 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.
“The Fayemi administration has been rendering helps to farmers. It has encouraged the siting of cassava mill at Ipao Ekiti, which is producing 350 metric tons of cassava daily.
“Dangote and Stallone 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 N2billion to be spent on land clearing that will help the farmers.
“The government has also facilitated about 6,000 bags of fertilizers that were sold to farmers at a subsidised rate. The fact that Ekiti is one of the five pilot states shows that our efforts were being noticed at the national level.”
Fayemi said the state played a prominent role in the formation of the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Amotekun, to end the destruction of farmlands by marauding herders.
On its own, the CBN Branch Controller in Ekiti State, 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 crude oil caused a major setback for the agriculture sector in Nigeria.
“The inability to meet our agricultural 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 included 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 also make credit available to farmers under the ‘five star’ cassava project,” he stated.