‘Bayelsa multi-billion cassava factory to train, employ PAP delegates’

The interim administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd), Wednesday said the 60-metric ton daily Cassava Processing Factory in Bayelsa will train and employ PAP delegates on cassava farming and starch processing.

The factory, which is fortified with modern equipment to process starch from cassava, was built by the Bayelsa state government at Ebedebiri, Sagbama local government area, Bayelsa state.

Dikio, who was represented by his special assistant on projects, Godwin Ekpo, spoke when he inspected the multi-billion naira factory.

He said about 1000 PAP delegates were expected to be trained in the cassava value chain and employed as out growers of cassava stems to feed the factory’s operations.

He said such arrangement was in line with the PAP’s Train-Employ and Mentor (TEM) empowerment strategy.

He stated further that the decision to send ex-agitators to the facility also aligned with the food security focus of PAP’s programme.

Dikio said delegates would learn cassava cultivation, production, processing, equipment maintenance and other businesses involved in the cassava value chain.

He said: “This is a 60 metric tons of cassava processing plant. It has a huge capacity and it is part of the facility that we will use for our Train, Employ and Mentor empowerment strategy.

“Even if everybody in this community plants cassava, it has the capacity to absorb all of it. We can see the entire value chain. This is a facility that will help many of our delegates and give them employment. It is an incredible facility located in the region. It will help them and also achieve our vision of turning these ex-agitators into entrepreneurs.”

The Project Management Consultant for the facility, Mr. Adebowale Ayoade, described it as the biggest industrial starch plant in Nigeria and the second largest in Sub-Saharan Africa, adding that the delegates will receive theoretical and practical trainings on cassava cultivation and management.

He further stated that the factory will buy all the cassava from the delegates’ farms and they will be certified by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

He said: “They will be taught theoretical and practical cassava farming courses from beginning to end, both in the classrooms and farms. The people who are coming to conduct the training are IITA certified trainers.

“The factory can do 60,000 metric tons of industrial starch working at a single shift of 250 days in a year and what that translates to is that we need about 200,000 tons of cassava to feed it. We need to farm on 10, 000 hectares of land.”

The commissioner for Agriculture, David Alagoa, described training ex-agitators at the facility as a win-win situation and a goldmine.