Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi has promised a cassava revolution in the state with the empowerment of 500,000 cassava farmers into the agric space.
Bello made the promise on Tuesday in Lokoja at a Stakeholders Consultative Meeting on 2020 Agriculture Budget organised by ActionAid Nigeria, Oxfam and ECOWAS Commission.
Other organisers are One Campaign, CAADP Non State Actors Coalition (CNC) and the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.
Bello, represented by Mr Kehinde Oloruntoba, Commissioner for Agriculture in Kogi, said that the project would be held in collaboration with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which would provide the inputs required for the cultivation of cassava.
He urged all the prospective farmers to indicate their interests to be part of the project.
“We will get their biometrics and forward it to the CBN, once they are enlisted, everything that is required to cultivate cassava will be given.’’
He said that the project, which would be fully mechanised, was also an incentive to attract the youth into agriculture.
According to him, once the produce are harvested, off takers shall be on standby to sell the produce at the prevailing market rate and after loan deduction, the profit would go to the farmer.
He said the programme was targeted at smallholder farmers that could not cultivate more than one hectare.
Bello said that the advocacy to encourage youths in the state to take to farming would be taken from one local government to the other.
“In this programme, we are not just producing, but adding value to cassava production.
“What is coming with this 500,000 cassava farmers initiative is 10 ethanol processing factories,’’ he said.
The governor said that the programme would also see to the establishment of “a lot of factories like garri, and chips processing factories etc.’’
He said once cassava was produced, there would be off takers ready to add value to produce secondary or tertiary products for the people.
Bello also said that a rice mill under construction in the state was about 88 per cent completed, which was soon to be inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said that the state had abundance of natural resources waiting to be exploited and urged investors to invest in the state.
“We have a situation whereby people would come from other states and buy our produce, go with it and label it Ebonyi rice, Abakiliki rice etc. All these must stop,’’ he said.