Rivers State Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike said he was optimistic that the state’s $ 12 million cassava processing initiative will create jobs and improve the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The governor called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to support the initiative to increase food security, create jobs and generate foreign currency for the country.
Governor Wike said this during a meeting with the board of directors of Rivers Cassava Processing Company Limited at the government building in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
He stated that the state government should enjoy the support of the CBN in its efforts to increase food production and reduce imports of cassava products, especially processed starch, into the country.
According to him, the country’s reliance on imported cassava products will be drastically reduced if the Rivers Cassava Processing Company is encouraged.
The governor regretted that the CBN failed to comply with the Rivers state government’s request for N5 billion to boost the state’s agricultural sector.
He noted that some of the N5 billion invested in the Rivers Cassava Processing Initiative will create jobs and reduce unemployment.
He proposed divesting the state government’s 70 percent equity in the company to encourage private sector involvement and minimize government interference in the company’s affairs.
Rivers State Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Fred Kpakor stated that the million dollar cassava processing facility in Afam in the Oyigbo region has the capacity to process 45,000 tons of cassava tuber to produce 12,500 tons of high quality cassava flour.
Kpakor added that the plant will create over 3,000 jobs and that the company will add starch to its products as well as glucose in the medium term.
The company’s managing director, Reuben Giesen, said the plant will run on environmentally friendly electricity from the independent Rivers State power station in Afam, setting the pace for the area’s industrialization.
Giesen said the state government and its partners, the Dutch Embassy in Nigeria and the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), had participated in the federal government’s manioc production policy.
SPDC’s external relations manager, Igo Wali, said Shell has already invested $ 3.6 million in the project to improve food security and job creation in the state.
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