The Federal Government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) are implementing an agricultural value chain development project focusing on rice and cassava in six states.
The 100 million dollars six-year project, which is in its third year, is implemented in Ebony, Anambra, Niger, Benue, Ogun and Taraba states and has gulped 56 million dollars by 2017.
Last week, the Federal Government along with IFAD and Niger State government embarked on an assessment tour of the farms and processing facilities in Wushishi and Bida areas of the state as part of the project midterm review.
In Lokogoma, Wushishi, the men and women groups are already making money through the value chain project. The project has renovated and equipped the cassava processing centres and built markets for the products.
Already, Sokoeyayeo women group of processors in the centre is making animal feeds from the cassava peels and (grade A) high quality garri.
The animal feeds are both for fish and ruminants with a10kg bag sold for between N3,500 and N4,000 while a 5kg bag of high quality Grade A garri cost N1,500.
The garri comes in three different sizes: 1kg, 2kg and 5kg, which sell for N300, N600 and N1,500 respectively to accommodate those with small resources.
Fati Abdullahi, 28, is the chairperson of Sokoeyayeo women group, Lokogoma. The mother of three told Daily Trust that the group has 25 members with one male member who serves as their secretary.
“We are now millionaires,” she asserted adding that “we also do Vitamin A cassava cake and four other products. People all over are asking for our animal feeds and garri,” she said.
Their men group cultivates cassava in a 10-hectare land out of 300 hectares initially cleared by retired Lt-General Mohammed Wushishi, a former Chief of Army Staff (1981 to 1983), for farming purposes over 30 years ago, but was released to the community for cassava cultivation.
The group, made up of 25 members, is made up mainly of processors who also undertake farming cassava as group and individuals to mitigate the scarcity of raw materials for value addition.
The women group gets supply of cassava from the men group. The men work as a group twice a week while the remaining days are for members to handle their individual productions.
At Bachichi and Etsuadu villages, two youth groups with 50 farmers leased community land for 10 years for cassava cultivation. They have been cultivating about 50 hectares in the last two years harvesting over 208 metric tonnes.
Isa Jibrin Bala and Abubakar Tangwaje are leaders of the groups from Bachichi and Etsuadu villages respectively. They said the groups have made significant improvement through the project, adding that it has improved their financial standing as a group and individuals as proceeds are shared.
At Bida, the Zaworo Rice mill is alive with new machines and the rice processed there is of good quality. Although the mill is medium scale, processing little above three tonnes per day, the blend of foreign and local technologies produces good result in the rice quality.
The processing facilities bring succor to farmers clustered in the area and the ‘Zaworo Rice’ is packaged in 5kg and 25k sold between N2,000 and N8,000 respectively
Reacting to the progress so far, the Niger State Programme Coordinator, Dr Mathew Ahmed, said the programme has recorded huge successes in the state despite lack of payment of state counterpart fund by the Niger State Government.
He believes that by the end of the project, more farmers and processors in the state would benefit more and the capacity of the mill and processing centres would be upgraded – something the Special Assistant to the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Mr Auta Apeh II, acceded during the visit.