Umuahia - Plans are under way to export one-million-tonne cassava chips valued at 136 million dollars to China from this month, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, has said.
Adesina said this in Umuahia on Wednesday during the inauguration of the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme, a critical component of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda.
The scheme is an innovative approach to fertiliser subsidy administration through an electronic system which ensures that only registered farmers benefit.
"Nigeria will earn 136 million dollars just this year as a result of this exportation and this is happening for the first time in our history."
The minister reiterated the federal government's determination to embark on measures that would boost the capacity of farmers in the country.
"We must use cassava to create a whole lot of things and that is why we must double our efforts on cassava cultivation in this country."
He said that the government had approved funds for the empowerment of farmers in Abia.
"The federal government will be providing the sum of N35 million to provide improved cocoa seedlings to cocoa farmers in Abia."
He said that eight varieties of hybrid cocoa had been released for onward delivery to farmers and that 25,000 pods would be distributed to farmers in the state free of charge.
"The average yield we are getting today from cocoa is 0.4 tonnes per hectare; the yield of the new cocoa hybrid will give you two tonnes per hectare - five times the yield you are currently getting."
"Each cocoa farmer will also get the approved fungicides and cartons of insecticides."
He applauded the contributions of Abia as the largest cocoa producer in the South-East geo-political zone.
The minister commended Chief David Onyenweaku from Abia, acknowledged as the country's largest individual cocoa farmer, saying "it is because of people like this that the federal government is encouraging farmers".