Gov. Abubakar Bello of Niger has inaugurated a cassava processing industry established at the cost of N150 million in Lokogoma, Wushishi Local Government Area of the state.
The cassava industry was established under the International Fund for Agricultural Development Value Chain Development Programme (IFAD-VCDP).
Bello hailed the IFAD-VCDP for focusing on areas of addressing rural poverty through accelerated and sustainable economic development.
‘‘The objective of the IFAD-VCDP is to ensure that incomes and food security of poor rural households engaged in production, processing and marketing of rice and cassava in the programme areas are enhanced on a sustainable basis,’’ .
The governor stressed that it was in realisation of the benefits to be derived from the programme that the government paid N87 million as its counterpart contribution for the programme.
The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Alhaji Ahmed Ketso, said that the state was among the highest producers of rice and cassava in Nigeria, as such the setting up of the cassava factory would transform rural economy.
He urged farmer groups participating in the programme to ensure the sustainability of the factory as well as the IFAD-VCDP.
Similarly, Malam Haruna Dukku, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the programme had exposed farmers participating under it to modern techniques in farming and allowed them access to loans.
Also, Dr Ben Odoemena, Country Programme Officer, lauded the state government for the payment of its counterpart fund.
Odoemena, represented by Dr Samuel Negedu, member Country Programme Management Team, commended the state VCDP for finishing first among five other states in the implementation of the programme.
Dr Ameh Onoja, National Programme Coordinator, said that a manager had been appointed to run the facility for a year, during which farmers would be exposed to best practices in agri-business.
Also speaking, Malam Bashir Maishanu, Chairman, Wushishi local government who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries, said that the council had committed N800, 000 as its to counterpart fund contribution to the programme, adding that the IFAD-VCDP had improved the lives of the small holder farmers in the area.
Earlier, Dr Mathew Ahmed, the State Programme Coordinator, disclosed that the facility with modern cassava processing equipment was valued at N150 million.
Ahmed said that under the project which provide matching grant, participating farmers pay 50 per cent for inputs, 30 per cent for equipment and 10 per cent for infrastructure.
The Federal Government is implementing the six-year programme on rice and cassava value chain in Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Niger, Ogun and Taraba.
The programme in Nigeria prepared in 2010 was approved for an IFAD loan of $74.4 million and grant of $500, 000 in April 2012.
The programme is schedule to complete its projects in Dec. 31, 2019, but would terminate by June 30, 2020