By Grace Eshedagho
In a bid to reposition the agricultural sector under the Stronger Delta agenda, the Delta State Government has flagged off year 2020 Cassava Development programme for cluster farmers at Obiaruku, Ukwuani Local Government Area.
Delta State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Hon. Julius Egbedi during the flag-off/on-farm training stated that the cassava empowerment package will be in cash and kind components for farmers at an interest rate of 5%.
Hon. Egbedi revealed that the State Government has selected six cluster sites, Ogwashi-Uku, Akwukwu-Igbo, Mosogar, Eku, Degele and two in Obiaruku for the programme with a total of 500 hectares of land across the state.
He said that for the year 2020 cassava development programme, State Government was making use of improved cassava cuttings from International Institute of tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan under best management practices, saying that the yield at harvest would tremendously improve.
Speaking earlier, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr Bennet Agamah who was represented by the Director of Agriculture Services, Mr Kenneth Awala, said, “Over the years, the State Government had embarked on several cassava programmes but this year’s was with a difference as the government is adopting NIRSAl model to de-risk the business in the case of losses.”
Mr Agamah further stated that the National Insurance Corporation (NAIC) was also engaged to insure the farms against loses, saying that the cassava cuttings are of highly improved 419 variety from IITA, Ibadan and Umudike.
Also speaking, the Operation/Marketing Manager for the Business Occupation Platform, IITA, Mr Akinyemi Ibikunle, stated that the training was to equip the farmers on good agronomy practices from site selection, land preparation, planting operation, weed control, and effective fertilizer application for maximum yield.
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, the Chairman, Integrated Cassava Growers Association, Mr George Ajabor thanked the State Government for the initiative, saying that the Cassava Development programme would not only give employment to the teaming unemployed youth but also increase cassava production of the state.
Mr Ajabor appealed to the state government to urgently provide other components of the programme, so as to complete planting before the end of September 2020, promising that the association would not fail the State Government.
The highpoint of the flag-off/on-farm training was the planting of cassava cuttings by the Commissioner, Hon Egbedi and the Director of Agric Service, Mr Awala.
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