NIGERIA – The Delta State government is determined to sell the multi-million naira Cassava Processing Factory limited to competent investors in its efforts to make investments from cassava outstrip the income from crude oil.
The Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Barrister (Mrs) Mary Iyasere disclosed this in Asaba yesterday at Stakeholder Roundtable on job creation targets for cassava value chain.
Iyasere lamented the inability of the government to properly manage the factory saying that ‘outright sale of Delta State government‘s 80 per cent equity share holding of Uzere Cassava Processing factory limited to competent investor who can run and manage the company‘ was the only option.
The Uzere Cassava processing factory limited was originally established by Isoko Local government council but the state government later bought 80 per cent shares, leaving 10 per cent share each for local council and the host community.
She said that the company was presently managed by a general manager with work strength of twenty and has the capacity of processing 10 tones of fresh cassava tubers per day which produces 2 tones of cassava starch, one ton of fibre.
The commissioner observed that the Okowa government was ready to make cassava, the new source of wealth for the people in its policy of economic diversification.
In his own address, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Hon Austen Chikeze told the stakeholders that Delta State is one of the major cassava producing states with average of 2.2 million metric tones of cassava annually.
He disclosed that the state government has already established communal farms in five communities and the cassava farms are cultivated in 510 hectares.
He therefore called on farmers to redouble their efforts as the international demand for cassava was growing and should make use of the opportunity to enhance their economic status and bring more money to the state in the face of the dwindling oil revenue.
Earlier in a welcome address, the chief job creation officer of the state, Prof Eric Eboh said that the essence of the roundtable talk was for cassava farmers to know the modern trends in cassava farming, what cassava can be used for and get ready international markets for the products.
He argued that era of depending on crude oil was gone and that cassava properly cultivated and processed could be the next foreign exchange earner for the state and the nation in general.
He therefore tasked the source persons to explain to the cassava farmers how they can add value to cassava products in getting a wide range of pharmaceutical , fuel for running cars and machines, beverages and pasta products.
The stakeholders on cassava cultivation were drawn from the three senatorial districts of the state.