From Ochei Matthew, Asaba
Against the backdrop of failing oil prices, the Delta state government is steering the state towards Agriculture and is currently producing an average of 2.2 million metric tonnes of cassava annually to boost its economic base.
Commissioner for Agriculture, Austin Chikezie, who gave the figure when addressing over 50 cassava farmers at a stakeholders meeting on Thursday in Asaba, said the state was looking elsewhere to drive its economy for the overall benefit of Deltans.
Chikezie said that the state has the potential of becoming one of the biggest agricultural producer in the country, aside oil and gas.
According to the commissioner, the state is intensifying efforts to produce more cassava in the years ahead to meet local and global consumption.
He noted that the state was increasing this trend because of the supply and distribution of high-yield, disease-resistant cassava cutting to replace the low yielding cassava mosaic requested by the farmers.
“Also the state has produced over five million bundles of improved varieties of cutting and distributed to farmers while modern cassava processing mills with a capacity of two tonnes are being constructed to add value to the cassava chain,” he said.
In a remark, the Job Creation Officer of the state, Prof. Eric Eboh, told the stakeholders comprising cassava farmers, consultants and government officials that large quantity of cassava production would improve the state economy and create more jobs for the youths, boosting the state revenue.
Eboh said: “There is systematic action, adequate consultation, proper planning to improve on the cassava production. There is also a workable practice and mechanism to link production to the target market.”