Nigeria’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that it has boosted cassava value chain with N25 billion in the current year 2020. This was aimed at curbing the $600 million spent on annual importation of cassava derivatives into the country.
Dr Chinedu Zephaniah, Senior Manager, Department of Development Finance, CBN, made this disclosure during the National Commodity Alliance Forum, NCAF in Abuja. He decried the fact that Nigeria, being the largest producer of the commodity in the world, still imports cassava derivatives.
Due to the situation, the CBN decided to invest annually in the cassava value chain, He said: “So under the five-star agricultural financing programme, the bank is spending about N25 billion to fund cassava this year alone.
“And we intend fund only contiguous plan in Kogi, Ebonyi, Cross River, Ekiti and Ondo States.”
He explained that the CBN designed a scheme tagged ‘Five-Star Cassava Farmers’, which cassava farmers who had borrowed loan and paid in the past were harvested and given financing to cultivate five hectares of cassava farm.
“This is in place of the initial program we were doing before wherein Agricultural Development Programs were funded to cultivate one hectare of farm.
“Agricultural financing is a sticky one and its very tough because we are a mere regulatory body we do not have the expertise on extension.
“We did a test run in Kogi, Ondo, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Cross River and Kebbi States what we discovered is that extension is critical, so we need partners to support us in extension.”
However, he called on the state government to step up in helping to address the farmers-herders crisis, as farm sheds and other infrastructures are needed in order to protect investments.
He also disclosed that despite the CBN and State governments having understanding on coming up with a contiguous plan which the CBN will finance massive cassava production in their states, yet there has not been any response from the state governments, which he appealed to them do act in that regard.
Meanwhile, Director, Project Coordinating Unit, PCU, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Bright Wategire, made it known that federal Government is working with the African Development Bank, AfDB, to boost cassava production in the country as there is a move to establish six Staple Crop Processing Zones, SCPZs, in the country.
Wategire pointed out that Nigeria being the largest producer of cassava does not make her the largest processor of the commodity but least processor of Cassava, which according to him is as a result of policy inconsistency and discontinuation.
“If there is deliberate policy drive and we implement it over a long period of time with some legislative backing some of the problems around production, processing will gradually fizzle out”, he said.