By: Wale Ibrahim, Lokoja
Kogi Agricultural Core Delivery Team (CDT) of the State Partnership for Agriculture (SPA) has said its projection is for the state to attain annual production of 20 million metric tons of cassava by year 2020.
The Secretary of the CDT and Assistant Director (Crops), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Mr Thomas Agene disclosed this at a meeting of the CDT organized by Synergos Nigeria in Lokoja.
Agene explained that the feat would be achieved through the use of technology in mechanizing the farms as the state resolves to adopt the new technology of 100 per cent mechanization of agricultural production.
“We want to use small-small machines to do away with the traditional hoe and cutlass (Hand tools), cassava planters and cassava harvesters. Our projection is to hit 20 million metric tons of cassava production by 2020.
“When the tractors are available, the land is available and the farmers are capable with a few persons trained on how to handle the machines, the 100 per cent mechanization will be achieved with a radical boost in production,” He said.
Agene also called for the establishment of dedicated cassava seed material farms across the state for the production of planting materials so that farmers would not run out of seed (Cassava stem cuttings for planting) after dry season harvests.
“If we want to achieve stability in cassava production, consumption and processing with the magnitude of industries that are coming up, we need to have farms that are mainly for seed material production.
“For the farmers to have their seed, it is best to uproot during wet season so that they can have their planting materials but it is more profitable to uproot during the dry season when the prices are up.
“That benefits the farmer more but he loses the planting materials but when the seed farms are available, he would have no fear, he would uproot, get his money and get improved planting materials from nearby planting farms,” He added.
The Assistant Director further hinted that the Federal Government had made available chemicals and simple processing machines including water pumps and sprayers at subsidized rates (50 per cent discount) to small holder farmers.
“We need to arrest women and youths interest in agriculture by bringing potable machines like the multi-purpose threshing machines capable of threshing between 10 and 20 tons per day.
Also speaking, Mr Bob Achanya, Director-General of the state Bureau of Public Private Partnership (BPPP) said the agriculture ministry had no platform for expressions.
Achanya held that the information to make the agriculture sector work depended on the ministry and therefore, advised that it should be more open.