As efforts continues to intensify to make cassava bread a household staple, the federal government and the Bank of Agriculture, BOA, at the weekend signed a N2.4 billion Memorandum of Understanding, to facility the processing of cassava flour for self-sufficiency in cassava bread production and consumption.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina stressed the need for the cooperation of the two organisations to provide support for cassava farmers and bakers to ensure adequate production and supply of cassava bread to Nigerians.
He further emphasized that farmers were to produce cassava under mechanised conditions.Adesina said: “Today is another day that marks a giant step in our effort to free ourselves from dependency on food imports, because as a country God has blessed us tremendously with resource; land, water, cheap labour, hard working citizens, big population that suppose to be eating what we produce.
“Nigeria therefore has no business to be a net food importing country. Nigeria will be unlocking everything we have so that we can start adding value to ourselves.
“We are delighted to be working with the Bank of Agriculture, BOA, of this particular part of that value chain. We are trying to reach 29, 500 of our farmers under this facility and to provide them access to cheap loans, mechanised services, inputs.
“With the BOA we are signing today the facility of N2.4 billion this is part of the cassava bread development fund. This particular N2.4 billion will be runned by the BOA, to facilitate the input and services for 29, 500 cassava farmers across the country.”
The minister gave a breakdown of how the funds will be utilised among the 29, 500 farmers registered with the ministry. He stated that the beneficiaries will be published in the dailies for the sake of transparency.
“The fund will do the following, N912 million will be dedicated to the organisations support for this 29, 500 farmers. It will be in form of a grant. 50 per cent grant and 50 per cent loan. There will be a sum of N708 million that will be used to provide planting materials to support this 29, 500 farmers and that will be simply in terms of grant.
“Third, the amount of N796 million will be used to support the agro inputs that will support this farmers, and we will run that as almost as our Growth Enhancement Scheme, GES, programme. It will be 50 per cent grant and 50 per cent loan.
“We have the full data of all this 29, 500 farmers and they are going to be in clusters producing a lot of cassava. But to support them they have to plant cassava under mechanised conditions. This will have tractors, combined- harvesters, and all kinds of equipment to support them.
Every beneficiaries of the N2.4 billion fund from the BOA will be published in the newspapers, because we are running a very transparent system. I will ask for patience because we are building the blocks.
The Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Bank of Agriculture, BOA, Dr. Mohammed Santuraki, said the initiative by the minister was a well thought out strategy to further boost the development of cassava bread and to be self-reliant.
“Our involvement in agriculture is not opportunistic, we in agriculture because that is our main business. We like the cassava bread concept because bread is a global staple.
“This is a very good initiative. As a country we import N695 billion of wheat every year. It is a natural choice that we substitute these massive imports we are engaging in. We think that this is a well thought out strategy,” Santuraki stated.