Stakeholders Alliance for Cooperate Accountability (SACA) commissioned and flagged off the distribution of cassava stems and plantain suckers to 1092 farmers in Bayelsa State, Nigeria. The flag-off ceremony took place on 10th February 2023 at the Bayelsa State School-To-Land Authority, Imiringi road, Yenagoa. Thereafter, SACA distributed these items to farmers in 24 communities on 10th and 11th of February 2023.This initiative followed the unfortunate flood disaster that occurred in Bayelsa State, in December 2022, which destroyed crops and washed away all cassava stems, plantain suckers and other seedlings.
From the exercise, 1,084 cassava farmers got 250 high-yielding cassava stems each and technical training to enhance their skills to produce more cassava stems and tubers. Another 8 plantain famers got 1,200 plantain suckers and modern skills to produce more plantain suckers and bunches.
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) delivered the cassava stems, plantain suckers and modern farming skills while SACA distributed the items and stepped-down the modern planting and cultivation skills to farmers in their communities. This is earmarked to help beneficiaries enhance their livelihood opportunities, contribute to food security in the State and increase their household income to recover from the huge loss sustained by the flood.
Key stakeholders at the event were the Bayelsa State Ministry of Agriculture, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC) and community heads. The scheme was flagged off by the Bayelsa State Commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Chief David Alagoa. His representative, the Project Manager of the Bayelsa State School-To-Land Authority, Mr Godwin Adeh, commended the initiative and reiterated the State’s preparedness to continue to partner with SACA in its programmes.
Goodwill messages were presented by four federal financial institutions that attended the event. The Director of Development Finance Department in the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Yusuf Yila, represented by Mrs. Augustina Osuya, commended SACA for the initiative. He noted that the project will help to bridge the gap between farmers and financial institutions in the State.
The Branch Manager of the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), Mr. Ikegwu Kenneth, buttressed the importance of seeing agriculture as a business. He assured farmers that BOA is ready to support those with positive mindset to expand their farming business.
The Head of the Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC), Mr Suowari Tonbara, explained how NAIC provide insurance cover to farmers to absorb risks associated with farming. He said that farmers usually pay very small premium to NAIC because both Federal and State Government pay substantial part of the premium. He encouraged farmers to enroll in the scheme to minimize the risks of losing all their investment to disasters like the recent flooding that occurred in the State.
Mr. Obinna Atu, a staff of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Onne, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, demonstrated best planting procedures for cassava stems and plantain suckers to achieve high yield.
This support falls into the food crop scheme of the Alternative Livelihood component of the ongoing UNGP-P2R project. It is a 3-year project with two schemes – the food crop scheme and cash crop scheme. This component is being managed by the Agric Management Committee (AMC) that comprises the Bayelsa State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and SACA. The UNGP-P2R Project is being funded by Misean Cara of Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Missionary Society, and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC).