ADDRESS OF NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA CASSAVA GROWERS ASSOCIATION (NCGA) PASTOR SEGUN ADEWUMI TO THE PRESS ON THE UPDATE ON THE NIGERIA CASSAVA PROJECT DELIVERED ON WEDNESDAY 29TH JANUARY 2014 AT CRYSTAL PALACE HOTEL AREA 11 GARKI, ABUJA.
Gentlemen of the press, I welcome you all.
As we gather here today to address Nigerians, we regard the press as an indispensable partner in bringing our voices to bear in matters of crucial importance to the Nigerian polity and economy. And we are confident that you all will give us that honour of making our voices heard.
We Nigerian Farmers salute our dear President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, President of the Republic of Nigeria. At the Launching of “Dry Season Farming Project” with emphasis on Rice which took place on Monday, 20th January 2014, our dear President moved some of us to tears with his love, passion and commitment to us.
When, at that occasion, Governor Saidu Dakingari of Kebbi State boasted rightly that Kebbi State no longer has poor people and added that “that was why the state was peaceful,” our President passionately said, “I wish I can say this for the whole of Nigeria”. He understood the democracy of the stomach, which knows no political party, as he set partisan politics aside and lauded the collaboration of Lagos and Kebbi states on Rice production and marketing. Such is height of our President’s concern for agriculture, a critical sector that affects everyone, high or low, as everyone must eat.
We, the farmers, regard the choice of our President and Commander-in-Chief on our “Honourable Minister for farmers,” Akinwumi Adesina as a veritable step towards the restoration of the glory of Nigerian famers that was lost since independence, 54 years ago. We acknowledge the zeal, the passion and the commitment of the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote, the Consultants and various Directors in the Agriculture Ministry, the totality of which gave a new life for the Nigerian farmers. We say thank you all.
Recently, we read the interview of one Mr. Shadrack Madlion, a Zimbabwean farmer, wherein he made some uncomplimentary comments on federal government’s on-going intervention to salvage the cassava industry. We the members of the Cassava Growers’ Association of Nigeria consider Madlion’s comments as a demonstration of prejudice and as “bad belle.” We are inclined to believing that Madlion’s comment derived probably or most likely from the sponsorship of those that were aggrieved by the giant strides and progress of this regime in Agriculture. Yes, we admit that in a democracy and free society like ours, people – including foreigners – can express their opinions. Madilon’s opinion is a complete misrepresentation of the real facts. It is for the reason that we shall answer him point by point as follows.
CASSAVA is easy to cultivate.
As against the opinion of MR MADLION that cassava farming is only comparable to the woman in pregnancy for nine months. Cassava is one of the easy crops to cultivate in the world. It requires just two rains to establish it and it will remain alive if there is no rain for months. Cassava grows with rain but survives with dews. Where farming is well planned, branching cassava types does the weeding by itself as it forms canopy over the entire farm. The topical leaf of cassava has five times the protein content of soya-beans. The leaves are used as animal feeds and the stems as planting materials. Therefore, Mr. Madilion you are wrong.
GLUT IN THE MARKET OF CASSAVA
We appreciate the strong passion of former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo whose vision is a reality today on cassava project. The mistake of those who implemented the project in the past has been adequately corrected today. Instead of glut, we now have effective demand with full compensation to the farmers.
One of the off-takers of cassava as raw materials is about to open for operations. Let me announce here that a multi-billion naira ethanol plant owned by Allied-Atlantic Distilleries Ltd (AADL), first of its kind in Africa, will be commissioned tomorrow at Igbesa Road Lusada, Ado-odo, Ogun State. This plant will mill over 300 metric tons (mt) of cassava daily in addition to the existing facility in the old site that mills 270mt daily.
AADL is making arrangements to replicate the factory in other parts of Nigeria. Right now we are only able to produce 7% of the Industrial Starch needed in Nigeria. 20% inclusion of Cassava Flour in bread requires 3300 mt of flour which translates to over 13,000 mt of raw cassava daily. Cargill and other world biggest companies have moved to Nigeria to produce sweetener concentrates and Glucose syrup right here in Nigeria to be marketed to the rest of the world. All the above are chasing Nigeria’s cassava “Mr. Madilon why do you dabble into what you don’t know”?
COMPARISON WITH WHEAT
We admit that cassava requires nine months to mature while wheat takes 145 days. You need to know also that while an hectare of wheat produces a maximum of 4metric tons, we can get over 50mt from an hectare of cassava. You also need to know that while cultivation of wheat is being experimented in few States, cassava is grown in all the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Cassava peels are the best food for some animals. I own a factory that produces five tons of garri daily. Pig and grass-cutter farmers pay me advance of three months to access the cassava peels!!!
CASSAVA BREAD INITIATIVES
Mr Madlion cynically questioned where was Obasanjo and Jonathan’s bread and also made disparaging remarks about cyanide in bread from cassava. We respond to him and tell him to go to all Shoprite stores in the country where 25 % cassava bread are on sale – but he should go early because it is ‘hot cake’ and finishes before all other bread on display; he should go to all park and shop locations, go to Zuma bakery in Maraba, to Fortunate bakery in Ilorin, and 40 other bakeries across the country. With Mr President’s support of the cassava bread initiative with N10 billion, a total of 5,000 additional bakers will be trained – six in every LGA. We will save 20% of the jobs that are being exported to USA and Canada with the import of $4billon of wheat every year. Which Nigerian does not understand the need for our young men and women to be gainfully employed. In addition, all cassava flour used in making cassava bread has approval from NAFDAQ; there is no cyanide in cassava flour.
WHAT CASSAVA REPRESENT TO THE NIGERIAN
Cassava is that wonderful crop from which over twenty Nigeria staple food can be obtained. The most prominent of these is gari. Gari is an instant food that can be eaten dry, soaked in water or made into morsel. Morsel garri called eba can be coloured for physical attractiveness. Eba has irresistible and compelling aroma that fill the room and provoke deep appetite. Garri is a world class food. It is the only Nigerian food that is acceptable to all parts of the country. Eba is the delicacy in Boarding Schools, hotels and restaurants.
Cassava is one of the positive stories about Nigeria. The global leadership position of Nigeria in cassava production is not questioned. It is our birth right and a source of pride to us. We should therefore be able to ignore any Madlion who decides to make himself the mouth piece of the social rebels and economic saboteurs. The vision of cassava’s economic ascendancy is fast turning to reality.
Thank you Mr. President, thank you our Honourable Minister for farmers, thank you Nigerian Farmers. Great farmers, Great Nations, No farmers, No Nation.
Pastor Segun Adewumi