With Kehinde Oluwatayo
Ondo State Government has been commended over its plan to establish an ethanol plant in the state.
The National President of Cassava Growers Association, Pastor Segun Adewumi who gave the commendation said the move will encourage cassava farmers in the state.
“We are told that Wewood, a Chinese company has just established an ethanol plant in the state which will use 300metric tonnes of cassava per day. That is a welcome development as farmers will have market for their produce.
“And If the state government can replicate it in the two other senatorial districts, it will empower the farmers because the main issue with cassava is market.
“Ethanol happens to be the most marketable item in the world right now because the world is moving away from using fossil fuel as it contributes to global warming”, he said.
While saying the soil of the state is suitable for cassava cultivation, Adewumi said Ondo state is a major cassava producer in the country.
He said cassava is one of the most important crops in the world noted that what Nigeria use #3trillion to import to the country annually can be derived from the crop.
Other challenges confronting cassava farmers in the country according to Adewumi are land clearing and lack of equipment which is why farmers can not go into large scale production.
“Land clearing is a problem not only in Ondo state but in the Southern part of the country generally. In the north they don’t have this problem because their land is automatically cleared.
“The normal way to do commercial farming is when you clear a large expanse of land, demarcate into plots and apportion to farmers. If we have our land cleared, may be 5000hectares or 10,000 hectares, then you can bring specialized equipment like planter to plant for everybody and that will collapse the cost of production.
“But if what you have is 10hectares and it plants it in a day, what will it be doing in the next one year.
“What we have been doing even in anchor borrowers programme is subsistence farming and that cannot take us anywhere in Nigeria. The cost of our production is about two or three times that of the international market, so we can not penetrate the international market”, he stressed.
According to him, cassava is not being exported as being noised by some people because of high cost of production.
While saying Nigeria is still backward in mechanised farming, Adewumi said other African countries have gone far.
” You scarcely find any other African countries where tractor is not surplus. But in some states in Nigeria, you hardly find ten serviceable tractors. I don’t think there is a country in the world where they still till the ground except Nigeria,” he lamented.
He congratulated Ondo State government for the feat and called for assistance for farmers to encourage large scale production.