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NAPEP, I{orean Firm Partner On Cassava Processing E From Emeka Anuforo, Ahuja government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in 2002, launched the cassava initiative, expecting to generate $5 billion in export by the year 2007. John Chukwu and nine others, hearing this, formed a cooperative SOCiety, which approached a micro-finance bank and got a loan of N750,OOO with which they bought a hectare of land in a farming community in Ebonyi State. In their excitement, they saw wealth in !heir dreams with each passing day. They bought high·yielding varieties of cassava, engaged labourers, and within a year, they harvested tons of cassava. Yet, years later, John and other members of his cooperative outfit were unable to pay back their loan. Frustrated, they had to resell the land. The several tons of cassava they harvested littered the large expanse of land, rotting away. There were no big time buyers to mop up their produce for export as the then Minister of Commerce, Ambassador Idris Waziri had bragged. Three years after venturing into cdssava farming, they had nothing to show for it. Like thousands of other Nigerians who embraced the presidential cassava initiative, there were no big marketers to buy off their yields. Tons of cassava flooded everywhere. Nobody prepared them for the postproduction stages as there were saturated markets but no mdustries to buy-off the cassava for value addition. John's story and t hat of his cooperative members underscored Nigeria's failure to address the emerging cassava glut. The South Korean government, in partnership with the National Poverty Eradication Agency (NAPEP), in a landmark gesture has recently unfolded plans on developing modern cassava processing centres in Nigeria that may end the glut, market uncertainty and bring back the hope of making fortune through cassava production. The Asian country appears convinced that it is possible to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty by adding value to cassava, ensuring local production of starch instead of im{lortation. Other derivatives of cassava such as chips, pellets, flour, adhesives and alcohol, among others might benefit from the initiative as the Koreans are trying to prove that poor electricity supply might not be a deterent. The Korean government observed that the growth of developing countries are based on the primary industries, a category in which agriculture fits, as a major employer of the majority of the poor living in rural areas. Korea, one of the world's most impoverished countries in the 19605, achieved breathtaking economic success throughout the 1970s and 19805 by simply using what it had to get what it wanted. It was agreed upon that cassava transformation to the next stage of livestock feed and industrial raw material would require labour-saVing production, harvesting and processing technologies to reduce costs, improve productivity and make cassava more competitive. The National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOlCA) are expected to commission the cassava processing plants in four centres acroSS Nigeria next month. Nigeria and Sou th Korea signed a bilateral agreement in 2008 for the setting lip of four agricultural processing centres at $1.6 million funded by the Korean government. A meeting between KOICA and NAPEP to finali se the groundwork was held on August 25 , 2008. But that amount, accord ing to NAPEP, is being reviewed upwards by the Korean parliament. Consultation, fie ld visits and surveys have been conducted by South Korean experts to the designated sites. About eight officials from the communities hosting the gari processing centres have conclu ded a training programme conducted in South Korea by the Korean government to prepare them to operate the eqUipment in the communities. National coordinator of NAPEP, Dr. Magnus Kpakol, told The Guardian in Abuja recen tly that the equipment for the centres have been sent by the Korean government to Nigeria. The first phase of the cassava processing centres, with the extra facility for processing the cassava peels into livestock feed, is to be set up in Enugu. Kogi. Ogun and 'Taraba states.

Warehouses are also to be built at the processing centres. He stressed that though the project was initially for gari processing, a review has included processing of white flour, starch extracts, and animal feeds. Kpakol revealed that the equIpment consist of washing, peeling and grinding, compressing, drying, frying, and packaging machines. Each centre, according to him, is also going to have ~Iectricity generating set, water and other relevant facilities. "To ensure that the programme is sustainable," he said, "a state project steering committee has been set up in each of the centres. The committee has represe ntatives of NAPEP state offices, state government, community representatives and local government." He hinted on the overall benefit of the project, saying "this is a major community poverty eradicatIOn effort.. .it is one sure way of lifting many people in the rural areas out of poverty, reducing the cost of derivatives from cassava and reilucing rural-urban migration. With the proceSSi ng centres, through the state and focal governments, we are also going to encourage farmers to produce more." In its cassava market opportunity and sub-sector analysis, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) rated Nigeria as the largest producer of cassava in the world. Another repon by rhe Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimated Nigeria's production as at2002 to be34 million metric tons a year. Total area harvested of the crop in 2001 waS3.US million hectares with an average yield oflO.83 tons per hectare. "Presently, cassava is primarily produced for food, especially in the form of gari, lafun and fufu,' observed IITA, "with little or no use in the agribusiness sector as an Industrial raw material. But the crop can be processed into several secondary products of industrial market value." It noted furth er that "the products are also useful as raw materials in the livestock, feed, alcohol/ethanol, textile, confectionery, wood, food and soft drinks industries. They are also tradable in the international market." President Obasanjo's cassava initiative attention on diverSification of cassava utilisation was not well responded to in the industries. The promoters of the initiative were eyeing a $5 billion in export"revenue by 2007. Cassava glut ensued, and the export destinations could not mop up the goods as anticipated. Pricing and quality of the

cassava chips became issues that could not be readily addressed. Indeed, a desirable outcome for the current government is a strong and diversified economy, able to generate employmentand sustain incomes for its citizens. One way of achieving this is for state governments to replicate the Korean mod el in their various states. IITA estimates show that, by zone, the nonh central produced over seven million tons of cassava a year from 1999 to 2002; south south over six million tons; south west and south east less than six million tons; north west two million tons; and north east 0.14 million tons. Cross River,Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Delta dominate state cassava production in the south so uth. Ogun, Ondo and Oyo dominate 'in the south west while Enugu and Imo in rhe south east. Kaduna alone in the north west is comparable in output to many of the sta tes in the southern regions at almost two million tons a year with very little currently produced, in the north east. _. The need for innovative cassava processing teChnologies has been stressed as traditional cassava processing has a number of undesirable attributes. As Kpakol put it, "the project will produce big time processing facilities; a demonstratio,~ again so that people will see that things can be done ... Chief resident representative of KOICA in Nigeria, Mr. Kim Kwangyoung, told The Guardian that "when we initiated this project, we realised that the rural women processed..cassava manually. We realised that we could change their fortune if we could proVide a modern and automated system of processing the cassava." "This is a pilot project. If it is completed successfully, this could be replicated in different states. In the meantime, if this pilot proves to be successful, we could discuss the second phase. We could go into irrigation and other aspects of agriculture to productively increase the yields of farmers in cassava and other cash crops. We could also Ilo into training of farmers in different farming techniques.' He added: "Cassava is one of the basic foods in Nigeria and other African countries. To solve Africa's good shortage crisis, cassava production needs to be increased ... With the kind of skills and technology we are introdUCing to the crop in Nigeria, we have no doubt that other African countries could take advantage of it and learn it."

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NAPEP Coordinator. Dr. Kpakol and the Korean Ambassador to Nigeria, Park Young-Kuk at a parley on the sening up of cassava processing centres in Nigeria

Work Bank Assists Lagos Govt On Agrie Development By Tony Nwanne

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E World Bank is funding some agricultural projects in various parts of lagos State, to the tune of Nl.35 billion. The projects include the provisions of the necessary infrastructure such as access road networks, establishment Agricultural Cooperatives Empowerment Scheme (ACES), provision flf re~ frigerated meat vans, creation of vegetable estates in Iyaafin, Badagry; Poultry estate in Erikorodu, Ikorodu , and fish farm estate in Epe. The world Bank-aSSisted financial facility, aiming at boosting food production and provide security for farmers is being handleo by the lagos State Ministry of Agriculture anil Cooperatives (MAC), and the ministry has em· barKed on some measures to achieve the goal. As part of the whole exercise, activities towaros upgrading the standard of farming by creating agricultural estates, acressible roail

network, and different initiatives to boost farming have commenced. During a tour to the ~states, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Mr. Yakub Bashorun, noted that the creation of these projects is part of effort TO upgrade and assist farmers in terms of facilitating and creating easy infrastructure and accessible roads to enhance their productivity, creating job opportunities and an enabling environment to make farming would attractive and "easy' in the state. According to him, the state was intecested in . revamping agriculture with the hope of makIng cooperatives Into viable and formidable instrument by which stakeholders would be in position to enhance their prod.uctivity "Its our intention to put in place a system by which the stakeholders in the farming sector would be able to sustain our food security initiative, raisi ng small scale farming to

medium sca le and from medium to large scale in their operations", said Bashorun. He noted that major intervention is to mitigate the problem of transportation of farm produce to the final consumers in ways that ",inimise losses during transportation, "hence, the need towards development of farm roads". Besides, the ministry through the Commercial Agricultural Development Projeots (CADP) "has also embarked on the development of 20 kilometres of roads spreading across to road projects in the five administrative divisions in the state. These are Epe, 1korodu, Badagry, Ikeja, and lagos Island/Mainland. Embarking on these projects, Basorun noted, would ease transportation of goods and, enhance farmers' profits. The project, it was gathered, was in response to pressure on agriculture. "Agriculture has the greatest oppor-

tunity for job creation in any enterprise. and the need to create this opportunity, has made the state government to create a scheme called Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES) project to train and orient prospective (armers to know the nitty-gritty of farming on rhe higher level". He noted that the use of Geographic Information System (GIS) to monitor farming, was prompted TO enhance easy location and size of farms across the state, in terms of proper documentation and development for proper usage of any land good for farming. Abosede Olubanjo, a reSident farmer, expressed hope that "the creation of easy and accessible roads by the state government will indeed increase our production rute and will bring about easy access to the consumers at large." He urged the government not to "re· lent in terms of proviiling proper manpower and infrastructure"


THE GUARDIAN, 10 APRIL, 2011