The federal government has revealed its plan to establish three modern cassava processing plants in Abia state.
This was disclosed by the Southeast coordinator, Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), Anthony Chimezie, at the graduation ceremony of 50 farmers on Tuesday.
The programme, which was initiated by the FIIRO, has already trained farmers in Abia on modern processing of cassava.
The Southeast coordinator said FIIRO had developed various means and methods of processing farm products as part of its contribution to the federal government’s agenda of transforming the agricultural sector and make farming more attractive.
Cassava is one of the major crops grown in Nigeria.
Between 1980 and 2016, data from the Food and Agricultural Organization showed that Cassava production increased from more than 11 million tons to 57 million tones.
Mr Chimezie said the research institute has, since inception in 1956, developed over 250 agro-technologies, noting that over 650,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have emerged based on the innovations.
According to him, the SMEs, based on FIIRO innovations, are concentrated in South West and Northern parts of the country where it started operation over six decades ago.
The zonal coordinator said FIIRO opened its South-east zonal office in Enugu six years ago, following its expansion to all six geopolitical zones of the country. He said some machines developed by FIIRO are fabricated at its Enugu plant.
He said FIIRO had also developed modern ways of processing and packaging many farm products for enhanced economic value, citing the packaging of bottled palm wine.
According to him, “the bottled palm wine represents one of the latest innovations of FIIRO. The product has a life span of six months without losing its original taste and natural properties”.
“FIIRO has made it possible for Nigerians living outside the shores of the country to “enjoy fufu and pounded yam flours through our innovations,” he said.
Aside from conducting researches and training of farmers on modern ways of processing farm produce for improved economic value, Mr Chimezie said FIIRO fabricates machines at its plant in Enugu.
He advised farmers in the state to key into the new farm technologies to improve their living standards.
The senator representing Abia North Senatorial District, Mao Ohuabunwa, who handed the certificates to the 50 trained farmers, said it was a thing of joy that knowing that Abia farmers could now make more gains from their farm produce with little stress.
He advised the farmers to form cooperatives for easy access to funds, saying that transforming the agricultural sector remains the practical way to revive the Nigerian economy.
Mr Ohuabunwa pointed out that farming remains the mainstay of the people of Abia North, but regretted that farming activities had been hampered by lack of modern processing plants.