The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, yesterday said the Federal Government was targeting the production of 51million metric tonnes of cassava yearly and 800 million metric tonnes of cocoa next year. The market value of cocoa stands at $80 billion.

According to Adesina, the current production capacity is between 38million and 40million a year, stressing that Nigeria wants to achieve the target by offering technical skills to farmers and supplying improved varieties of cassava to among others.

The minister spoke  to reporters shortly after a training workshop on quality management systems for flash dried quality cassava marsh production for Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) in Southwest at Lala community in Ewekoro Local Government Area of Ogun State. He said N3.4billion has also been deposited with the Bank of Industry (BoI) to enable SMEs  access funding for the upgrade of their equipment.

Adesina who was represented at the training programme by his Technical Adviser on Cassava Value Chain, Mrs Toyin Adetunji, added that 20 persons from the Southwest (Lagos and Ogun), are already beneficiaries of the training spread across the country. He said: “We already have 20 beneficiaries out of the 35 intended for this particular set. We feel that having upgraded the equipment, we feel it is important also to back it up with this training on quality flash dried cassava marsh so that the product would be more competitive and attract the desired market it is intended for.”

A statement endorsed by the ministry’s Director,  Information and Protocol, Tony Ohaeri, Adesina said the Federal Government will partner with the Nestle and other firms to produce high energy foods. He said the government was focusing on private sector led agriculture to ensure food security. Dr. Adesina said the ministry was working on bio-fortification of special cassava variety that has Vitamin A, adding that the government was committed to producing nutritious food.

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