FG to roll out N10b Cassava Trust Fund

By The Citizen

President Goodluck Jonathan is considering approval of a N10 billion Cassava Trust Fund, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. AkinwumiAdesina, has said.

Adesina spoke at the commencement of business in Staple Crop Processing Zone (SCPZ) yesterday in Agbadu, Kogi State. The event also witnessed the roll out of cassava Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme at the venue.

He said: 'This will be a year of greater success for Nigeria's agriculture. We have the support of Mr. President to turn around the cassava sector. He has graciously agreed to consider our initial request of close to N10 billion cassava fund to further explore potentials of the cassava industry.'

Adesina said when fully approved, the fund would also be used to support research and development efforts on cassava bread, training of master bakers and support for master bakers for the acquisition of new equipment for production.

On the GES, Adesina, who was represented by his Senior Technical Assistant, Adetunji Oredipe, said the GES will enable farmers to produce additional food because the farmers will receive their improved cuttings and fertilisers.

'This year we are taking cassava GES programme to scale, we have designed different levels of support to different categories of farmers, and we are committed to making this work,' he said, adding that this marks a major milestone in the drive to ensure that the modern cassava farmers adopt the best available agricultural practices, starting with the use of improved inputs; cuttings and fertilisers.

In doing this, he stressed, 'we will ensure that our farmers, the real cassava farmers who should be the real beneficiaries of government policy, are well targeted by government programme.'

He said about 14million farmers have been registered and have benefited from the scheme in the last two years, stressing that it will add up to the nation's drive towards food security.

Adesina said to assure sustainable supply of high quality cassava flour, the Ministry has secured low interest and long term financing from the China Exim Bank for the importation of 18 large scale high quality cassava flour processing plants, to be owned and operated by the private sector.

In his address, Commissioner for Agriculture, Olufemi Bolarin, noted that Kogi State Governor, Idris Wada, has keyed into the ATA by encouraging the state peasant farmers in all facets of agricultural production.

He said the state government has subsidised agro chemicals and fertilizers to the farmers, to enable them participate fully in agricultural production, stressing that the government has earmarked huge areas of land for agricultural activities, such as cassava and maize to employ the services of the teeming youth.

He said cassava has been discovered to play a vital role in the Federal Government's ATA in the agricultural sub-sector, adding that there are various sectors, such as fisheries, that should be encouraged and developed to accomodate the teaming educated youths who are currently roaming the streets in search of jobs .

He however advised youths to take interest in agriculture, saying that the emergence of mechanised agriculture has made it easy and condusive for the graduates to imbibe the culture of farming in order to be self reliant and drastically reduce unemployment enveloping the whole world today.