By Olusola Fabiyi, Abuja
NIGERIA.The Punch - Lagos, Oct. 14, 2008
Members of the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association have called on the Federal Government to appeal to banks to give them credit facilities. They said this was the only way the government could achieve the expected annual foreign earnings of $5bn from the crop. The farmers made this known during the inauguration of their association in Gwagwalada, Abuja on Monday.
The farmers also called on the Federal Government to reactivate the moribund Presidential Initiative Committee on Cassava to enhance the $5bn cassava products’ export to the international market annually.
Speaking on behalf of farmers, the National Coordinator, NCGA, Chief Tola Adepomola, said there was no way the nation would achieve the lofty idea if the banks continued to turn their back on the farmers anytime they asked for loans.
He said, “We are now begging the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency help us beg the banks to extend credit facilities to us, the grassroots farmers.
“It has been said that agriculture is the bedrock of Nigeria’s economic development. It is the most certain solution to poverty reduction, employment generation and sustainable food security.”
Nigeria is said to be producing about 50 million metric tonnes of cassava per annum, making her the largest producer of the crop world over.
However, the Presidential Initiative Committee on Cassava realised that Nigeria could produce 10 times that quantity based on the fact that it had comparative advantage on production of roots and tuber crops, especially cassava more than many countries of the world.
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, NCGA, Chief Anson Eke, appealed to the government to assist the farmers by providing them with tractors and preservatives, which would help in their work.
He said that if this was done, cassava farmers spread across 20 states, would be able to do mechanised farming.
Eze said that cassava as a crop, had assumed the position of a domestic and commercial crop.
The crop enjoys the patronage of about 70 per cent of the farmers in Nigeria because of its adaptability to various weather conditions, which often makes it succeed where other crops fail.