In 2014, the World Bank, in collaboration with the federal and Kogi State governments, began the implementation of the FADAMA III Additional Financing, (FADAMA III-AF), project aimed at increasing production of certain crops, with focus being on cassava in the state.
The programme was designed to support cassava farmers to boost production in the state by at least 40 per cent and also increase their incomes by 20 per cent.
Basically, the programme provides support for cassava farmers in the areas of land clearing, cultivation, high-yielding cassava stems (TME 419), training on best agronomic practices, provision of access roads, boreholes in farms, fertilizers/chemicals and linking farmers to markets (off-takers), amongst others.
The FADAMA IIII AF support for cassava production recorded lots of successes in the state thus making it the highest cassava producer in the country with an annual production of 4 million metric tonnes.
Leveraging on the cassava production potential of the state, the Kogi State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) came up with the idea of establishing a “Cassava City” in Osara, Adavi Local Government Area of the state.
Speaking in Lokoja recently during an agricultural event, the Managing Director of the ADP in the state, Mr Oyisi Okatahi, said the “Cassava City” concept was aimed at exploring opportunities and prospects of cassava production to serve as gateway for employments and prosperity in Kogi.
He said the 12,500-hectare cassava farm city incorporates the entire value chain of cassava, including farmers, agro-chemicals/equipment dealers, extension agents and crop processors, among others.
According to Okatahi, investors such as Contec Global, Geron Oil and Gas and Jil Farms, have all bought into the initiative and have commenced work at the city site.
He said the Cassava City project, had become a reality and the concept will be replicated across Kogi with maize, rice and other crops.
Okatahi enjoined all stakeholders to remain committed as the investors had ‘proof of capital’, saying government and the community’s equity in the investment would primarily be land.
He applauded the state governor for his commitment and vision for the agricultural sector in the state.
Also speaking, the Director of Contec Global, Dr Sashi Mozumder, who is one of the investors, said his company in partnership with Geron Oil and Gas, Praj India and NNPC, would be producing 40,000 litres of bio-ethanol per day.
“The investment started up on a turn-key basis is 25 million dollars and the plant will employ over 2,500 people on a full time basis.
“Contec consortium will provide inputs to farmers who will serve as out-growers for the scheme, and also provide basic infrastructure such as rural roads, power and health centres,” Mozumder said.
He said Contec the company will also provide basic infrastructure such as rural roads, power and health centres.
On his part, Managing Director of Geron Oil & Gas, Mr Haruna Madisca, along with Mr Yakubu Danjuma, representative of NNPC Renewable Energy Department confirmed the commitment of their organisations to the project.
The MD of JIL Farms, Dr Ayoade Akere, said his firm will be investing in cattle production in the Cassava City and will derive most of their feedstock from cassava.
According to him, the investors have performed major corporate social responsibility projects in education and health care within the cassava city.
CBN/NIRSAL Lokoja represented by Messrs Onoja Enenche and Qosim Odewale stated that NIRSAL had already verified over 240 farmers for the Cassava City to access the “Enhanced Anchor Borrowers Programme.”
Kogi State Commissioner of Agriculture, Mr Kehinde Oloruntoba, lauded Governor Yahaya Bello for his commitment to agriculture particularly cassava production in the state.
He said Kogi is the leading cassava producing state in Nigeria with 4 million metric tonnes per annum of the nation’s 58 million metric tonnes per annum.
The State Project Coordinator (SPC) of APPEALS Projects, Dr. Sanni Abdullahi Ozomata, said that the World Bank project will support the city in terms of infrastructure and value addition.
Also, the State Project Coordinator of Fadama, Mr Paul Ogunmola, stated that Fadama cultivated 2,500 hectares of cassava with mechanization and best practices, adding that the same knowledge will be transferred to the Cassava City.
Representatives of UNICANE and Crest Agro, who currently own large ethanol companies in Kogi, said they were pleased with the Cassava City project as it would provide more feedstock for their operations.