The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, may have put aside the political animosity between him and his predecessor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, by reviving the cassava processing factory at Afam initiated by the Amaechi administration eight years ago.
Wike, who toured the project on Thursday, said the factory would soon be inaugurated and would receive and process cassava from thousands of farmers in the state.
He said the project would directly and indirectly employ the services of about 4,500 people in the state when it becomes fully operational.
The project is a partnership between Rivers State Government and Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited, the largest oil prospecting and producing company in the state. While the Rives State owns 70 percent equity shares in the project, Shell holds the balance.
Wike said, “We are quite happy that this project which was initiated by the previous administration in 2012 and abandoned has come to the stage of completion.
“When we came on board and saw the usefulness of this project to our economy, we did not hesitate to release funds to complete it.”
The governor said the state was leaning back of agriculture following the sharp drop in income received from oil, which has been adversely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As you can see this project which is about 90 percent complete would have been commissioned this month if not for the Covid-19 pandemic which has negatively impacted global economy.”
Wike said one exciting advantage of the venture is that the company would go to the farmers in their clusters to collect cassava from them. “This will no doubt reduce the challenge of logistics and increase farmer participation,” he said.
The Managing Director of the Rivers State Cassava Processing Company, Ruben Giesen noted that the cassava plant would buy cassava tubers directly from farmers. He disclosed that the plant had the capacity to produce about 45,000 tons of cassava flour daily. He added that the project was the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa. Other agricultural projects started by the Amaechi government that were abandoned by the Wike administration are the Songhai Farms at Bunu-Tai, the Banana Farms also in the Ogoni area and the Buguma Fish Farm.