By Adedeji Adeyemi Fakorede
Financial boost for Nigeria’s cassava production nudged forward on Thursday as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) disbursed N53.3 million to local farmers in Auchi, Edo state through the Elephant Group Plc and the Edo State Government Cassava Project.
A total of 120 farmers have received N444, 800 each, aggregating N53.3 million.
Abdullahi Muhammed, the project coordinator said the farmers grouped under the Ozemoya Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative Society were expected to cultivate 240 hectares of cassava.
“We want to thank the CBN for giving us the opportunity to access the fund directly; individuals have gotten the sum of N444,800 each credited to their accounts in readiness for the project. We are appealing to the state government that as the CBN has already disbursed the money to the farmers, government should commence land preparation so that we farmers can start to grow the crop. The supply of chemicals and fertilisers and training of farmers have been completed to make the farm project a success,” Muhammed explained.
Responding to the call for land clearing, Monday Osaigbovo, Edo state commissioner for agriculture assured that funds would soon be released in order to carry out land preparation for the cassava farmers to cultivate.
Cassava is one of the agricultural commodities which Nigeria has comparative advantage at producing. However, the larger chunk goes into local consumption which farmers struggle to service under inadequate financing.
Earlier in the year, the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA) required the cultivation of additional 100,000 hectares of cassava under the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) to increase production to two million tonnes in the bid to address industrial demands during this year’s farming season.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), worldwide production in 2018 will grow slightly to 277 million tonnes, a 0.5 percent annual increase after two decades of rapid expansion. Trade volumes, meanwhile, are forecast to decline by 36 percent.
In sub-Saharan Africa, output is expected to grow by around 2.0 percent to reach a record level of 161 million tonnes. This would translate into a per capita availability of cassava as food of around 86 kilograms, a slight decrease from the year before due to faster population growth in the region.
Cassava is used mainly for producing animal feed, with the dry roots chips and pellets preferred by industrial animal feeds producers in America and Europe.
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