Private company explores cassava uptake in the Bida-Badeggi zone
One of the oversight functions of the commodity value chains in the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program, Phase One (ATASP-1) is to link farmers and producers to off-takers of their products. Based on this, a team from Dufil Prima Foods Plc., Lagos, makers of Indomie Noodles, Power Oil, and Hypo bleach, was in Niger State a few months ago to explore the establishment of a cassava factory that will produce starch for their factory. ATASP-1 Cassava Commodity Specialist, Dr Richardson Okechukwu, facilitated this trip and linkage.
Diwakar Yadavalli and Narayan Agarwal represented Dufil Prima Foods. The team arrived at Duma community for an overview and cognizance survey of cassava farms and land availability. They were happy with the cassava farms they saw and returned the following day for more discussions. The team met with the Permanent Secretary, Niger State Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Ibrahim Garba Musa, ATASP-1 Zonal Outreach Officer, Aishetu Aliyu, ATASP-1 Agribusiness Officer, John Yisa, and other officials from the Ministry’s office at Minna.
At the meeting, Okechukwu explained to the Permanent Secretary the purpose of the visit which was to intimate the government of the choice of Niger State as a potential location for siting a cassava factory.
The Permanent Secretary welcomed the investors and informed them that Niger State has the largest land mass in Nigeria and that cassava is a main crop cultivated throughout the State. He said the government would be glad if they invested in the cassava sector to solve the problem of off-take usually experienced by farmers in the State. Musa thanked IITA and ATASP-1 for this initiative and said that in addition to the Suleja zone, cassava is also abundant in the Wushishi zone of the State. The field visit took the visitors and ATASP-1 officials to Chadozhiko in Wushishi LGA and Duma in Suleja LGA.
They drove through Bida-Agaie-Gulu communities where cassava is also largely grown. There were group discussions with famers and elders in both communities and cassava samples were harvested from farmers’ fields which the Dufil team took for further analysis. During the interaction with famers, Dufil was told that farmers in Chadozhiko numbered about 1000, while those in Duma were about 1500. The average farm size was 1.5 ha in both locations. The Dufil team also asked the farmers if they had existing contracts for root supply with any off-taker and the answer was negative. The farmers requested the investors to visit again and spend more time in the field to see their farms. They enumerated their challenges in cassava cultivation as inadequate tractors for land preparation and lack of credit facilities to expand their farms.
Presently they produce and sell to anyone who is interested but will want to have a company built in their locality. The team left Minna for Lagos with a promise to return for more detailed evaluation.