The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the National Policy on Staple Crops Processing zone to guard the development, management and operation of staple crops processing zone in the country. President Goodluck Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, stated this in Abuja when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the weekly FEC meeting, which was presided over by President Jonathan.
According to him, the policy is aimed at developing commercial agriculture, adding value to staple crops, creating jobs and reviving the country’s rural economy. “The Council also approved the National Policy on Staple Crops Processing zone, the purpose of which is to guard the development, management and operation of staple crops processing zones in the country.
“To develop commercial agriculture; to attract private sector food processing companies into rural areas; to add value to all staple food crops; to reduce post harvest losses; to reduce Nigeria’s dependence on food import; create jobs and revive the rural economy. “You know, of course, that the agriculture sector is one of the major areas of focus for this administration and the achievements in that sector, have been widely acknowledged both locally and internationally.
`And this policy is to further strengthen that sector and deepen what had been done so far.“Also addressing the correspondents on the policy, Gov. Idris Wada of Kogi, said his state had been selected as the pioneer staple crop processing zone for cassava. “I’m here because Kogi (state) is the pioneer staple crop processing zone for cassava. We have cassava process zone in Alape in Kabba-Bunu Local Government Area of Kogi state.
“We have been working closely with the Federal Ministry of agriculture on this project. “We have allocated 15,000 hectares of land; perimeter surveys have been done. “The local communities are very excited about the project in partnership with Tagel and a lot of work has been done; environmental and social impact studies are going on.
“The interests of small holder farmers are accommodated in the whole project. “Settlers in the area are not going to be disrupted; the World Bank is involved; so everything is done to international standards. “We believe that this will transform the rural economy of the Kabba-Bunu Local Government Area and adjourning local governments in Kogi State.“
He expressed optimism that the project, when fully operational, would create at least 10,000 jobs in the state. According to Wada, the project will boost agricultural activities across the state and uplift the quality of life of the entire people of the state. He said, “There will be massive job opportunities where it is estimated that at least 10,000 jobs will be created
“When this project takes off fully, young boys and girls, who are unemployed will have opportunity of employment; it will encourage young people to go into agriculture and those already in agriculture will have improved wealth to live better with the infrastructure that will come in. “They will have better quality of life and other opportunities that will arise from the cassava staple crop processing zone.“
According to Wada, the state government has shown firm commitment and political will for the success of the project and will do its best possible to ensure that the project succeeds. In his contribution, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, described the policy as a “game changer“, saying that the zones being developed would provide more than 250,000 new jobs nationwide.
He said the project would attract investment worth 1 billion dollars from local and foreign partners with about four to nine billion dollars value added to the nation’s economy