…Announces seed money for any 1ha cultivating cassava land in state
…Local value-addition to unlock $16m revenue to government
Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
Rivers State says it is divesting its equity share in the just-inaugurated Cassava Processing Company which was built at over $12 million between it (Rivers) and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC). The essence, Governor Nyesom Wike said, is to ensure the company runs well as a going concern.
“Government will make sure that we do not own more than 10 percent of equity shares. This will enable the company to run profitably, make revenue, pay taxes and create employment,” Governor Wike said.
The integrated cassava plant would offtake cassava tubers from some 3,000 farmers, and process same into flour, starch and other value-added products.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Sabo Nanono, said, the plant has become a direct response to addressing the challenges of food security in Nigeria. He said his ministry continues to engage bakers on the need to embrace import substitution of wheat and flour by incorporating 10 per cent of cassava flour in their baking activities; and the Rivers State cassava processing plant is now available to satisfy that need.
Osagie Okumbor, the Country Chair of Shell Companies in Nigeria, said experts have said that the local value-addition to cassava via local manufacturing and processing could potentially unlock about $16 million in taxes to the government.
“With the Rivers Cassava Processing Company Limited, Shell hopes to support the Rivers people to earn much more revenue from the cassava value chain as the company utilises leading technology to process and create more added value from this crop. Today, we have the Rivers Cassava Processing Company Limited that will process cassava into high quality cassava flour via a unique split processing technology based on the operating principle of taking the factory to the farm gates rather than having the farmer bring the cassava tubers to the factory gate,” Osubor, who was represented by Igo Weli, said.
Meanwhile, Rivers government also announced that it has set aside seed money to encourage massive cultivation of cassava across the State.
Governor Nyesom Wike made the seed money promise at the inauguration of the State Cassava Processing Plant at Afam Town in Oyigbo Local Government Area of the State; stating his administration’s willingness to encourage proper cultivation of the vast fallow land available in all local government areas of the State to ensure that the processing plant does not lack raw materials.
He assured the seed money would not be administered like previous grants offered by the state government, but will be given to genuine farmers after being verified and encouraged to increase production volume of cassava in the State.
“The other day, I went to see one of my friends. I went to his farm of over 56 hectares of land. He’s trying to cultivate cassava, and I was very impressed. I told him that government will identify and verify those genuinely involved and are registered as cassava producers. Apply to us that you want to farm one hectare of land for only cassava. Government will give them seed money to continue farming cassava so that there will be no problem of cassava supply to this plant,” Governor Wile said.
He explained that it is no more fashionable for youths and leaders of local government councils to be content raising revenues from stickers. He urged them to avail themselves of opportunities offered by the cassava processing plant.
He solicited for more loans from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to consolidate the visible gain that has been made already in boosting agriculture in the State; assuring that such loans will be paid off before he leaves office, as he has already made a commitment not to leave any burden for his successor.
Governor Wike commended Shell Petroleum and Development Company (SPDC) and the Dutch government for their courage to partner with the state government to actualise the project and assured that the company will be allowed to operate as a profiting making private venture.
“On behalf of over 15,000 registered farmers in this state and others in neighbouring states, I thank you for this project. Rivers State Government has become pacesetter in these collective efforts of making agriculture work in Nigeria,” the Rivers governor said.