By Mike Abba
Association members at a meeting, recently
The Federal Government’s drive towards agricultural revolution as part of measures to diversify the economy seems to be on a fast track as Nigerian cassava growers aim to attain additional two million tonnes volume in 2018.
This disclosure was made by the National President, NCGA, Segun Adewumi, in a statement containing the Association’s plan for the New Year.
He said the move was aimed at meeting industrial demands in this year’s farming season, as most companies have intensified effort towards backward integration.
To achieve this, Adewumi said the group would focus on the cultivation of additional 100,000 hectares for cassava production, stressing that the proposal had been sent to the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) for approval.
According to him, “We have made a proposal to NIRSAL to aggregate additional 100,000 hectares for cassava production and that will give us an additional two million tonnes of cassava for industrial use in the next cropping season.
“That is our target. Large-scale production is a situation where you have about 20 tonnes and above per hectare. We have sent the proposal to NIRSAL but we have not received answers.”
While expressing concerns over the glut that occurred in 2016 post-harvest production, the farmers’ group boss noted that the development was a demotivation to members of his Association.
He expressed optimism that the focus on large-scale production being driven by Nigerian companies would lead to better output this year and that there will be no post-harvest glut.
“For many years, cassava farmers have been in glut situation and last year, many people did not plant cassava because of the glut in the produce. We will enter into scarcity, if there is no capacity to off-take what we have planted, it will rot again. During the cassava bread fund, we were asked to plant cassava in large quantity but by the time the cassava matured, the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) did not release money to the off-takers who were supposed to buy from us so, our cassava rotted away.
‘‘The government should roll out programmes that will convince the cassava growers that if they plant, they won’t run into the hitch of how to sell it. Once the government rolls out her programmes and we see that we are protected; we will align with it to make sure when the farmers produce, they will be able to sell”, he said.
Adewunmi did not specify the current level of cassava production traceable to his group to which the expected 2 million tonnes will be added.