From Tony John, Port Harcourt

The Project Management Consultant for the 60-daily-metric-ton Bayelsa Cassava Processing Factory, Mr Adebowale Ayoade, has disclosed that about 1,000 ex-agitators and delegates of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) would begin training at the facility first quarter of 2022, subject to the approval of PAP’s leadership.

Ayoade, who described the facility as the biggest industrial starch plant in Nigeria and the second largest in Sub-Saharan Africa, said that delegates would receive theoretical and practical training on cassava cultivation, starch processing and management.

The project manager and the Interim Administrator, PAP, Col. Miland Dixon Dikio (retd), who was represented by his Special Assistant on Projects, Godwin Ekpo, recently inspected the multi-billion naira factory, located at Ebedebiri, Sagabama, Bayelsa State.

Speaking on Monday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Ayoade explained that after the training, the ex-agitators would become outgrowers of cassava stems to feed the factory.

He said the facility would buy all the cassava from the farms to be established by trained delegates, adding that the training would be handled by resource persons certified by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

Ayoade said every arrangement for the training such as accommodation for delegates, their feeding, resource materials and facilitators had been put in place to ensure a smooth take-off and conclusion of the programme.

He said the training venue is the University of Africa (UOA) satellite campus close to the cassava processing plant in Ebedebiri, adding that the ex-agitators will have a rewarding experience.

‘They will be taught theoretical and practical cassava farming courses from beginning to end, both in the classrooms and farms. The people who are coming to conduct the training are IITA certified trainers,’ he said.

‘The factory can do 60,000 metric tons of industrial starch working at a single shift of 250 days in a year and what that translates to is that we need about 200,000 tons of cassava to feed it. We need to farm on 10, 000 hectares of land.’

Dikio had earlier explained that PAP settled for the Cassava Processing Factory to train ex-agitators on skills they required to boost food security in the Niger Delta and the country.

He insisted that food security remained one of the tripods of his vision to train, employ and mentor ex-warlords on massive opportunities in agriculture including cassava farming and starch processing.

He said the factory, built by the Bayelsa State Government, has modern equipment to teach the amnesty delegates the process of converting cassava to starch.

‘The 60 metric tons of cassava processing plant has a huge capacity and it is part of the facility that we will use for our Train, Employ and Mentor (TEM) empowerment strategy.

‘The facility will help many of our delegates and give them employment. It is an incredible facility located in the region. It will help them and also achieve our vision of turning these ex-agitators into entrepreneurs,’ he said.

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Source: news