Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Govt targets $136m revenue from cassava export to China

NIGERIA’s economic diversification drive may inch towards realisation soon, with plan by Federal Government to export one million tonnes of cassava chips to China, beginning from this month.

The export business is expected to bouy the nation’s earnings by $136 million (N22 billion).

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adeshina made this disclosure in Umuahia, Abia State, on Wednesday, during the inauguration of the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme, a critical component of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda.

The scheme was scripted as an innovative approach to fertiliser subsidy administration through an electronic system, which ensures that only registered farmers’ benefit.

“Nigeria will earn $136 million just this year as a result of this exportation and this is happening for the first time in our history”, Adeshina said.

The minister reiterated the Federal Government’s determination to embark on measures that would boost the capacity of farmers in the country.

He added: “We must use cassava to create a whole lot of things and that is why we must double our efforts on cassava cultivation in this country.”

He also disclosed that the government had approved funds for the empowerment of farmers in Abia.

“The Federal Government will be providing the sum of N35 million to provide improved cocoa seedlings to cocoa farmers in Abia”, adding that eight varieties of hybrid cocoa had been released for onward delivery to farmers and that 25,000 pods would be distributed to farmers in the state free of charge.

“The average yield we are getting today from cocoa is 0.4 tonnes per hectare; the yield of the new cocoa hybrid will give you two tonnes per hectare and that means you will get five times the yield you are currently getting.”

“Each cocoa farmer will also get the approved fungicides and cartons of insecticides.”

He applauded the contributions of Abia as the largest cocoa producer in the South East geo-political zone.

The minister commended Chief David Onyenweaku from Abia, acknowledged as the country’s largest individual cocoa, saying ``it is because of people like this that the Federal Government is encouraging farmers”, he said.

Meanwhile, participants at a workshop on the processing of cassava grit for poultry farmers in Nigeria have given assurance that processors have the capacity to meet local and international demands for the product.

A cross-section of the participants said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria that the price of the product per tonne would also drop drastically from N50, 000 to about N26, 000.

Mr. Philip Ajomiwe, who was the facilitator of the one-day workshop, held at his processing plant in Oriendu near Umuahia, said that cassava farmers and processors would produce enough to meet the need of poultry farmers.

Ajomiwe, who is a cassava grower and processor, said that farmers and processors would intensify efforts to meet the Chinese demand for 2,000 metric tonnes of dry chips.

He thanked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, for initiating a number of policies that would revolutionise the nation’s agriculture.

He explained that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture recently organised a training workshop at Enugu for farmers and processors in the South-East, where they were tutored on modern techniques of cassava processing.

‘’This is just one part of many initiatives by the minister to drive President Goodluck Jonathan’s agricultural transformation agenda through the value chain approach,’’ Ajomiwe said.

He explained that the workshop, which was organised at the instance of the agriculture ministry, had 10 participants (trainer trainees), who were expected to train other processors and prospective ones in their respective areas.

He said that the participants were taken round different processes, beginning from weighing 200 kg of cassava tubers to the grating and mechanical drying to produce 100 kg finished grit. ’’

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