Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State.

…pledges allocation of 5000 hectares of land to California based agro firm in Edo

By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja

To further strengthen the economy of the state, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki has engaged the United States government in the oil palm and cassava sub-sectors of the state for the manufacturing of high-value Consumer-Packaged Goods (CPG).

The governor is also partnering with the private sector for optimal actualisation of the objective.

Obaseki unveiled the plan at a virtual meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Honorable Mary Beth Leonard and some foreign and local agribusiness investors in Abuja on Thursday.

The meeting which held on the heels of the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as US President and Vice President respectively attracted the presence of the U.S. Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, U.S. Embassy Economic Officer Richard Michaels and Brandon Hudspeth, U.S. Embassy Political Officer.

Obaseki said that efforts to galvanize the sector began by instituting the framework for Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP) in his first term.

He said: “At the sub-national tier of government, we focus on moving from lamenting to executing; we are focused on getting the job done.

“This paradigm shift in the establishment of the ESOPP will now include a move towards a renewed focus on Cassava Industrialisation Programme through our land administration and civil service reforms.

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“We want to build the capacity of our people to attract private investments in agro-industrialisation”.

The Governor expressed satisfaction with the support and commitment of the ambassador to the plight of farmers and value chain development in the state.

He committed to continued support for Fayus Inc, an agro-processor and distributor based in Sacramento, California for its investments in Edo and Nigeria.

He, therefore, pledged additional allocation of 5000 hectares of land for the firm, emphasizing the need for human capacity development to engage the people of Edo.

On her part, Amb. Leonard who led the team of U.S. officials commended Obaseki for his expression of interest to attract U.S. agri-business investors in the cassava and oil palm value chains.

She pledged to spur other U.S. food and agribusiness companies to invest in Africa.

“Fayus Inc.’s $43.7 million investment commitment in cassava new food products development serves as an example of the synergy of goals in value creation to drive food security, economic diversification and jobs creation under the Prosper Africa Initiative and DFC project financing in support of US-Africa investors,” the ambassador said.

Leonard also thanked Fayus Inc., AfricaGlobal Schaffer (AfGS), ShineBridge Global (SBG) and local partners in Nigeria for investing in the country.

In his remarks, the Chairman of Fayus, Inc, Mr Fatai Yusufu said they were ready to revolutionize oil palm and cassava value chains in the state.

“We are ready to get the job done in Nigeria and in Edo; over the next four years, I promise you, we will be milling palm oil in Edo from our investment in the 5,000 hectares of land recently allocated by Governor Obaseki’s administration.

“Fayus, Inc. is one of six new oil palm investors in Edo with state-of-the-art nurseries boasting of over 600,000 high-performance seedlings ready for planting in 2021.

“Fayus, Inc. is committed to sustainable cassava supply chain infrastructure development and value creation in Nigeria to meet the company’s latent demand of 50,000 tonnes of High-Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) for in-country manufacturing of CPG in Nigeria and export to North American, European, and Australian markets.

“U.S. companies, Fayus Inc., AfGS and SBG committed to investing $43.7 million in industrial food ingredients and CPG cassava value creation, food science and technology knowledge transfer and increased trade and investment inflows between the United States, Nigeria and other ECOWAS countries.

“Fayus, Inc. plans to invest over $32 million in cassava value creation in Nigeria and an additional $18 million in Ghana and Togo, and has approached the USAID funded West Africa Trade and Investment Hub (WATIH) for support,” he said.

Also, the Chairman of Shine Bridge Global Inc., Dr Tony Bello, said that the market size of gluten-free and grain-free CPG is estimated at $4.5 Billion by 2025.

Bello said that value-added HQCF or tapioca flour served as functional food ingredients for making ready-to-eat consumer new food products.

He explained that Fayus, Inc. was the manufacturer of the famous “Ola Ola” brand of poundo yam flour and is expanding the brand to include Cassava Flour Mixes for making baked goods such as crackers and pizza crusts, snacks, shawarma, noodles, and the likes.

The aim, according to him was to meet the growing demand for gluten-free and grain-free consumer food products in North America and the world.

Similarly, Dr. Mima Nedelcovych, the Chairman of AfricaGlobal Schaffer (AfGS), an agro-industrial company operating in Africa commended Obaseki for the opportunity to invest in the state.

He said the job will be done by leveraging on US Departments and Agencies such as USAID, USTDA and the United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).

Nedelcovych also underscored the need to take advantage of the U.S. Exim Bank, African Export-Import Bank (AfreximBank) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) alongside the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for food and agricultural industrialisation.

According to him, the aim was to rapidly reach 15 states of Nigeria on large scale commercial cassava production, HQCF processing and CPG manufacturing with planned investments of $250 million up to $500 million.

Nedelcovych who is also a co-facilitator of the meeting appreciated all the participants and Obaseki’s Special Adviser on Agriculture and Food Sustainability, Prince Joe Okojie, for their efforts in developing the state.

Other participants at the meeting included Pacific Ring West Africa, Elephant Group Plc., and Von Foods Limited under the Project BOLT initiative on “Industrial Cassava Manufacturing Programme” in Africa.

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