By: Wale Ibrahim, Lokoja
The CrestAgro Products, an agro-based company has began construction of an ultra-modern factory as part of its N20 billion investment in the production and processing Cassava in Kogi.
The Managing Director of the company, Mr. Dele Ogunlade, while speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony of the factory at Achabo in Kogi-Koton-Karfe Local Government of Kogi State said the journey started three years ago.
Ogunlade said the factory would start with 110,000 tons of cassava per annum and move up to the 500,000 tons within two years adding that the cassava requirement for the factory was gigantic.
The Managing Director who described cassava as “Gold” said farmers in the business of cassava production around the state would be better off for it as their produce would be off-taken to feed the factory.
He said company’s 13,000 hectare cassava farm at Apata, Lokoja Local Government would not be able to produce the cassava requirement of the factory adding, “Today, we have the largest cassava farm in Kogi State with the aim to be the largest in the world in no distant time.”
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Kehinde Oloruntoba in his remarks thanked God for the crisis in the oil sector that has compelled the nation to diversify to agriculture saying, “Now, we know that cassava is money.
“Before now, we had paid lip service to agriculture”, he said, adding that the recent developments and particularly, the recession had force government to accord agriculture its rightful place in the economy.
Oloruntobe pledged the commitment, support and collaboration of the state government with the company for it to succeed saying that the MMM (Ponzi scheme) is now farming.
Gen. David Jemibewon (Rtd.), former Minister of Police Affairs and Military Governor of old Oyo State also used the occasion to applaud the Federal Government for re-directing attention to Agriculture.
Jemibewon also commended the state government for the favourable environment created to attract private investors into the state and charged the host community to support the management of the company saying that many of such initiatives in the past were frustrated by the host communities.
Mr Victor Adejoh, Synergos Nigeria Field Manager for Benue, Kaduna and Kogi states speaking on the ground-breaking ceremony, said his organization, Fadama and the state Bureau for Public Private Partnership (BPPP) were collaborating with CrestAgro products to ensure its success.
He said that the collaboration had resulted in cassava farmers across the state being linked and thereby, creating a good atmosphere for agric business for CrestAgro adding that they were supporting the company to increase the number of smallholder farmers linked to it in 2017.
The traditional ruler of the community, the Gaku of Achabo, Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim pledged the support of his people to the company saying that he gave the land in realization that the company would benefit his people, the state and the country at large.