Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Akinwumi Adesina has presented the Staple Crop Processing Zone (SCPZ) masterplan for cassava to Gov Idris Wada of Kogi as prospective investor also inspected the farm site.
Speaking at the ceremony in Alape, Kogi, Adesina said that the Federal Government was determined to make Nigerian farmers rich just like their colleagues in other parts of the world.
Adesina said the only way to achieve that was to grow agriculture as a business and not a way of life or a developmental programme.
The 2013 Forbes Person of Year said government was determined to add value to farmers’ by facilitating the construction of storage and processing facilities, to reduce post-harvest losses.
“We are determined to be number one in processing cassava in the world. This project would produce 6,200 tonnes of starch and 4,600 tonnes sweetners that would replace the sugar we import.
“It will increase income of this area by about N14.5 billion and bring improved road network, improved power supply and improved gas supply as we shall lay 23 kms of gas pipeline to be used by Cargill and Obajana Cement Factory for processing,” the minister said.
Earlier in his remark, Wada expressed his joy that his state was chosen to kick-start the establishment of the SCPZ being one of components of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda programme.
Wada noted that Kogi was the largest cassava producer in the country and had already planted 200 hectares of the crop in readiness for the commencement of the project.
“We already have cultivated 200 hectares of land for the take-off of this project and over the coming years, we will expand to plant 15,000 hectares of cassava and this will comprise smallholder farmers who will key into the programme.
“This will advance our economy, empower our farmers, bring development and wealth to this part of our state and to Nigeria as whole.”
Wada thanked the community leaders for making land available for the project and promised adequate compensation to members of community.
He also urged the community to cooperate with Cargill, the prospective investor, and take ownership of the project, when it becomes operational.
The governor described Cargill as a reputable company that would not jeopardise with the well-being of the community.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Chairman of Cargill Company, Mr Emery Koening, commended the Federal Government for its zeal to set up SCPZs in the country.
NAN reports that SCPZ is a vast zone where there is a large production of food that would attract the private sector to set up food processing plant, to process the food it into finished food and other products.
Cargill is a U.S.-based company with many years of experience in food and feed processing and has indicated interest to set up a plant in Alape to process cassava into starch and sweetners that would replace imported sugar.
Koeing said he was delighted with the zeal demonstrated by Nigerian leaders to develop food processing in the country.
“On behalf of Cargill, I want to say thank you for the support we have received here today.
“It is a pleasure to visit Kogi State and the opportunity to see the site and meet the people that would benefit from the establishment of the SCPZ.
“I am impressed with the quality, calibre, vision, the integrity and the direction the leadership here has demonstrated to Cargill”.
He noted that Cargill which operates in about 65 countries around the world, was open to doing business with farmers to make them prosper and ready for investment in Nigeria.