Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said yesterday that the country is targeting over $5billion annually from cassava production in the next few years
He stated this in Abuja at the National Cassava Summit.
It was with the theme: “Toward $5 billion per Annum Cassava in the next five years.’’
Ogbeh said that the country had neglected agriculture in the last 30 years.
He, however, added that the industry had the potential to employ more youths and improve foreign exchange.
Ogbeh expressed concern over the very low number of farmers accessing credit facilities in the country.
He said that the Federal Government would enhance and strengthen the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) to allow farmers access to credit facilities at 5 to 6 per cent interest rate.
“Most of the Commercial Banks give loan to farmers at 28 to 30 per cent interest rate. How do farmers grow with such a high interest rate and make profit
“We have to intensify efforts to address this problem in order to meet our target because earning in cassava industry is so high.
“Rural roads need to be rehabilitated for easy transportation of our farm products to the market. Our budget is small. We cannot in the Ministry level promise of constructing all rural roads. But something has to be done fast,” he said.
He, however, urged research institutes like the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to include vitamins in cassava in the next research work to balance its nutritional content? and better consumption.
Prof. Lateef Sani of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, in a paper, said that the industry has the potential to create million of jobs across the country through its Value Chain.
“By 2021, Nigeria cassava industry will represent over 5 billion dollars, spurs rural industrial development, generate millions of new jobs and create wealth for over 45 million people.
“Cassava peels, grits, chips are viable as animal and fish feeds.
“Given the large amount of Aquaculture and Livestock done in the country, this can be an interesting prospective market,” he said.
Mr Alfred Dixon of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in a keynote address said that Nigeria was confronted with a growing population and rising urbanisation with high demand for food and feeds for livestock.