NIGERIA – Out of 174 members of the Association of Master Bakers of Nigeria who have indicated interest in the Cassava Bread Fund Initiative, 100 have already received N989 million from the Bank of Industry (BoI) Limited in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

This represents 92 percent of the approved sum of N1.074 billion and shows that BoI is committed to the successful implementation of Cassava Bread Fund Scheme, according to a statement from the bank.

Cassava Bread Fund Initiative is a scheme targeted at providing funds to bakers to acquire baking equipment and achieve inclusion of about 20 percent cassava flour into wheat flour for baking bread and other confectionary, as part of the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

Originally, the sum of N2.2 billion was earmarked for this category of beneficiaries in the form grants and loans. But the members were grouped in two batches. The sum of N989 already disbursed is for the first batch beneficiaries.

Of the remaining 74 beneficiaries, only 60 have met basic conditions necessary for the disbursement of 50 percent grant, amounting to N537.93 million. The requests for this batch are being processed, as the suppliers of equipment only provided Performance Bonds as equipment delivery guarantees last Wednesday, February 4, 2015, while the funds was to be released on Monday, February 9, 2015.

In a statement issued over the weekend, BoI said the fund was a revolving one and the sustainability of the scheme was considered paramount. The statement said the bank’s regional officers had been engaged in visiting and verifying the effective and efficient utilisation of the funds in terms of equipment delivery, installation and efficient operation across the nation.

The bank explained that N350 million was earmarked for 35 High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) millers for the upgrade of their mills, comprising 50 percent grant and 50 percent loan. Similarly, the sum of N195 million or 55.7 percent in the form of grant and funds for the reconfiguration of their factories have been disbursed to 20 beneficiaries who are grouped in batches of 10 each.

The bank further stated that while equipment for the first batch of 10 beneficiaries had been installed, the delivery and installation of the second batch of equipment to another 10 beneficiaries was ongoing and that with the pace of work, it was expected to be completed on or before February 20, 2015, all targeted at enabling the beneficiaries meet the desired HQCF volume.

Also, of the remaining of 15 beneficiaries, only eight have fulfilled the agreed conditions precedent for disbursement and as such, an additional N32.20 million, being 50 percent of the approved amount of

N64.4 million, is being processed for this batch of beneficiaries. The supplier only submitted the Performance Bond to facilitate disbursement on Tuesday, February 3, 2015, said the BoI.

Regarding the N425 million earmarked for working capital loan, about N100 million has been disbursed to those that have been supplied the basic items of equipment while the balance is being disbursed in tranches to the remaining beneficiaries as they complete the installation and test-run of their equipment in line with the agreed milestones.

The bank said it was committed to ensuring that the objectives of the Cassava Bread Fund were achieved and placed on its front burner the sustainability of the scheme by conscientiously managing the Scheme, stressing that in the discharge of its duties as fund managers, it had professional and fiduciary obligations to ensure that the fund remained viable so as to make the expected developmental impact.

“As partners, the bank enjoins the beneficiaries to ensure timely fulfillment of the agreed conditions precedent to loan disbursement as specified in the agreement governing the scheme to enable the bank serve them better,” the bank said.

February 10, 2015;