Seyi Makinde, governor of Oyo State, has inaugurated the first cassava-based sorbitol factory in Africa, built by Psaltry International Company Limited in Ado-Awaye, with a promise to intensify infrastructural development to ease the transportation of agricultural produce.
The factory, funded by First City Monument Bank, under the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and projected to produce 25,000 direct and indirect jobs, will also empower 10,000 rural farmers and farm families living within 80km radius to the factory covering more than 20 host communities around Oke-Ogun.
Makinde, while speaking at the inauguration on Thursday, said his administration had made the right decision, with steps taken towards reviving the agricultural sector in the state.
Describing Oyo as the second largest cassava producer in Nigeria, he said his government had taken agriculture as one of its top priorities.
“We are in full support of this company; we believe there cannot be urban transformation without rural development. I promise people infrastructure development to aid the economy and we are doing everything possible to develop infrastructure to ease transportation of agricultural produce especially to the urban areas,” he said.
Yusuf Yila, director, Development and Finance Department, CBN, Ibadan Branch, said funding the project was part of developmental function of the bank, saying that Psaltry was one of the beneficiaries of CBN Commodity Development Initiative initiated in 2019 with 12 focal commodities, including cassava.
“Psaltry International Company Limited is a beneficiary of the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, one of the CBN’s interventions aimed at fast-tracking development of the agricultural sector of the economy by providing credit facilities to commercial agricultural enterprises at a single digit interest rate,” he said.
Represented by Edwin Nzelu, deputy director, in the department, he said the initiative was aimed at conserving foreign exchange through import reduction, boosting local production, thereby closing the existing supply gap of commodities with comparative advantage, as well as job and wealth creation.
He said the initiative had enabled the apex bank to intervene across the value chain of several commodities from production to processing.
Oluyemisi Iranloye, chief executive officer of Psaltry International, said the company would create jobs for 10,000 youths in the community and would also indirectly impact 100,000 people within 200km radius to the factory, covering more than 50 communities.
“The factory has the capacity to produce 25 tonnes of sorbitol per day. Nigeria is one of the largest importers of sorbitol. There is a lot of pressure on corn; except we have a perfect substitute, cassava can produce more than 300 products for Africans, providing job opportunities.”
She said with the factory would reduce the nation’s overreliance on imports and drive agricultural industrialisation in Nigeria
Iranloye said the company would create pathways for aspiring entrepreneurs, aid financial institutions on how they can play important roles in Nigeria’s agricultural revolution and how the nation can reduce its dependence on other countries for survival.
She said the company’s motive was to reduce unemployment and the nation’s over-reliance on import of sorbitol, a natural sweetener extracted from glucose.
Sorbitol is a sweetener, colourless liquid with 60 per cent sweetness ratio to sucrose (common table sugar); its calories ratio is about 40 per cent lower to sucrose, which makes it the best option for diabetic persons. Its humectants property makes it a necessary item in the cosmetic industry and in the production of toothpaste.