The Federal Government said on Thursday that the strengthening of small and medium scale enterprises involved in cassava production in Enugu State would encourage the export of the crop.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Akinwumi Adesina, said this on Thursday in Enugu during a courtesy visit to Gov. Sullivan Chime.
Adesina disclosed that the ministry was working toward creating a cassava and farmers market in Enugu State.
He said that every state in the country had a potential in agriculture, adding that the country had no reason for importing food.
``We are working on cassava. Today cassava farmers have problems; many of them cannot even harvest tubers for lack of markets.
``We have been in this state to look at upgrading a number of SMEs that are doing cassava processing.
“ To look at how to create new markets for cassava, be it in terms of high quality cassava flour, modified starch, native starch, chips or using cassava for ethanol production.’’
He noted that agriculture was a business and not a development programme, which if adequately harnessed could create wealth in rural communities.
The minister appealed to the Enugu State Government to pay priority attention to agriculture.
Responding, Chime lamented that no meaningful development would be achieved without emphasis on agriculture.
The governor, represented by his deputy, Mr Sunday Onyebuchi, assured the minister of the state government’s commitment toward improving agriculture in the state.
He said that the land tenure system was a major challenge to large scale and mechanised farming in the state.
``The problem in this part of the country is the land tenure system which hinders large scale farming.
``Government, to encourage mechanised and large scale farming, acquired 150,000 hectares of land from the 17 local government areas so that we can partner with the private sector, make land available for people to embark on large scale farming in the state.’’
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Minister of State for Agriculture and Alhaji Bukar Tijani, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, Rep., Tahir Monguno, commissioners of agriculture from different states and other stakeholders in the sector, were present at the meeting.