…As Minister tasks lawyers on clarity in drafting laws for oil, gas sector***
The National Cassava Processors and Marketers Association (NCAPMA) on Tuesday observed that Nigeria’s partial closure of its land borders is set to increase industrial use of cassava and other local agricultural produce.
The group’s Administrative Secretary, Dr Bola Asiru, stated this in Lagos, noting that the border closure and its attendant increase in the cost of imported raw materials had positioned cassava as a priority crop for industrial use.
He highlighted that though Nigeria was the highest producer of cassava, governments did not give it priority attention in the past.
Asiru said that the current administration’s policies including the Executive Order 5 and the Central Bank of Nigeria’s directive to commercial banks to give agriculture sector loans at low interest rates, all indicated hope for increased cassava use.
“With the closure of the borders and increasing cost of imported raw materials, it is now very necessary for industries in country to look inwards for alternatives to survive.
“Cassava has become a very important crop to Nigeria’s economy.
“This is evident by the recent rush by the Flour Millers Association and big operators such as Unilever and Nestle, which have been seeking for use of cassava starch and cassava flour to replace imported corn starch.
“They are seeking local alternatives, and cassava is one of the prominent crops that can fit into such alternatives.
“Cassava’s increasing relevance was confirmed by representatives of the CBN at the last Cassava Investment Forum organised by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Abuja,’’ he said.
Asiru, also a Director in the Federal Institute for Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), said that the CBN representatives declared support for cassava use and started to dialogue with various associations in the value chain.
The NCAPMA official said that the CBN representatives also met with FIIRO, IITA and the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, to chart a way forward for increased production and use of cassava in Nigeria.
He lauded donor-agencies such as the German Development Corporation (GIZ) for contributions to the cassava value chain.
Asiru said that GIZ had trained about 30,000 cassava farmers in South West Nigeria on better agricultural practices and businesses.
He said that GIZ had also trained rural women processors in order to improve the quality of `garri’ (cassava flakes).
“Notable among the achievement of this German donor-agency, GIZ, is its collaboration with FIIRO and Bosch in the development of Mobile Cassava Processing Innovation (MOCAPI).
“MOCAPI is a unit comprising of grater, hammer mill, press and a packaging machine operated by a 1.5kph generator, all assembled inside a tricycle.
“We have been using this mobile unit to move from one rural area to another to process quality garri, and in our field test, the adoption of the innovation by rural women has been very high,’’ the NCAPMA official told NAN.
He added that the MOCAPI would improve the quality of garri and promote food safety.
Asiru said that the next step for the MOCAPI, which was produced by the collaborative efforts of GIZ, FIIRO and Bosch, was upscaling to commercialisation.
According to him, a business model has been produced and the partners are looking for investors who will take over the technology as service providers to the rural areas.
In another development, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva has urged legal practitioners to ensure clarity in drafting of laws in the country, especially for the oil and gas sector.
Slyva made the call in Abuja on Tuesday at a two-day capacity workshop for Counsels in the Ministry of Justice.
The workshop was organised by the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), with the theme: “Enhancing the Quality of the Legal Services in the Oil and Gas Sector’’.
“It is better to write our laws clearly, it will reduce a lot of fight in the industry. It is good that you people look at the bubble points in our laws to avert a lot of crisis in the industry,’’ he said
Represented by his Chief of Staff, Mr Dayo Olamide, the minister reiterated the need for constant training of lawyers, adding that the workshop was a step in the right direction.
He urged participants to use the capacity workshop to look at issues concerning the oil and gas sector critically, especially in the area of alternative dispute resolution.
“As ministers in the temple of Justice, your work is to ensure speedy discharge of justice in all areas and the oil and gas sector being very important to the nation, your efficiency remains very necessary.
“The industry is dynamic, production, exploration issues are complex and you need to understand how this evolves in current times.
“This kind of workshop will help you to understand the sector and to deliver on some arbitration that might affect the industry to deliver on its mandate for national development,’’ he added.
In his remarks, the Executive Secretary, Dr Bello Gusau said that the major focus of PTDF was to build the capacity of Nigerians, stakeholders as well as support research funding to help develop the oil and gas sector in the country.
Gusau said that workshop was in line with its mandate, adding that it was necessary for the judiciary to keep abreast with the development in the sector.
He noted that the workshop would help to bring to fore current happenings in the sector as well as discuss the important areas of legislation in the sector.