The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has disclosed plans to partner Heritage Agro-Allied (H2A) Foods and Elephant Group Plc, to cultivate a $6 million 1,155-hectare cassava farm and set up a food processing facility in the state, to boost agricultural development.
Obaseki disclosed this when senior executive officers of the group paid a courtesy visit at the Government House in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
He said, “The partnership with the H2A Foods and Elephant Group Plc will enable the state government achieve its promise to create 200,000 jobs within four years especially through agricultural development.”
Obaseki explained that the cassava project is a model for job creation for the teeming unemployed youths in the state, adding, “The state government will provide the required infrastructure for the partnership. We will support the cassava project through the construction of roads to link the farms for easy evacuation of cassava produce.”
He added, “We will also facilitate provision of electricity for the cassava processing plant through the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC).”
Chief Executive Officer, H2A Foods, Dr. Tony Bello, who spoke on behalf of the group, said, “About 420 cassava farmers drawn from the three senatorial districts in the state would be engaged in the pilot scheme of the project. We have set a target to produce 20-tons of cassava per hectare.”
Bello added, “The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) and the Anchor Borrowers Programme, is ready to invest about N214 million in the project.”
“On our part, we are investing about $6 million in cassava transformation for staple foods in Edo State. This will enable us process cassava into value-added nutritious foods. The products will target local and foreign markets. In the first phase, we will begin with 850 hectares out of the 1,155 hectares. We expect that the state government will engage at least 100 agriprenuers in Edo state to actualise the project,” he said.