An agricultural innovation to convert cassava peel to livestock feed has been inaugurated in Ojakpata community of Kogi State under the inspiration of Synergos Nigeria, an international nongovernmental organisation in Nigeria focused on agriculture development, systemic interventions, economic diversification and corporate social responsibility, according to its Country Director, Adewale Ajadi.
To implement this, Synergos, barely one-year-old in Nigeria, is in partnership with a broad spectrum team tagged the Core Delivery Team which comprises representatives of the federal and state governments, the World Bank, Fadama 111, the Kogi State University, and the International Livestock Research Institute in Ibadan.
Mr. Ajadi, speaking at Ojakpata, Friday, described Synergos’ role as a “catalyst to enable the transition from subsistence farming to agribusiness, with special focus on gender and nutrition, whose work is to ensure that there is alignment between policy and implementation, and between demand and supply in the market, across the value chain.”
He said under the collaboration, the Kogi state University, “is going to collect and analysis data generated from the factory for better implementation and replication.”
The state governor, Yahaya Bello, in a message to the occasion, congratulated the people of Ojakpata for building a peaceful community which he said has helped attract developments such as the cassava peel conversion to livestock feeds plant which was being commissioned.
Mr. Bello used the occasion to sell his signature programme on agriculture which he said was built on a state of emergency on agriculture front that is designed to spur massive food production.
Elements of this programme, Mr. Yahya stated, included the massive clearing of farm lands in all the local government of the state to encourage farmers, while adding that no farm produce will be wasted as all will be bought by the state trading board just to encourage farmers.
He also announced that the state government had ordered 500 trucks of fertilizer in the month of March alone to support farming and would be sold to farmers at federal government approved rate.
In his remarks, the chairman of Ojakpata processing plant, Mr. Ali, praised Synergos for siting the facility in his community, saying it will go a long way to save people from poverty even as it will help the state realise its mandate to deliver Kogi State from hunger.
Mr. Ali also spoke on the the training of the cassava processors at IITA organized by Synergos, adding that “the innovation has also come with other side benefits like the sinking of the first borehole in the entire Ojapata community, a bold development leap which he said will ease the living conditions in the area.” If the government will extend the cassava peel innovation to include the provision of electricity, the digging of another borehole and the clearing of 200 more hectares of land for the community, Mr. Ali said it will lead to a quantum leap for the community.
Samson Aribido of the Kogi State University’s faculty of agriculture, whose first encounter with the possibility converting cassava peels to animal feeds was at a 1988 conference organised by IITA spoke of his delight of seeing the reality of that idea with the Ojapata initiative urging governments in the country to drive knowledge-based innovations. He urged government to adopt this same model in every people oriented project which can potentially lead to industrialization of the nation and of course grass root engagement.
Synergos presently focuses on two cash crops: cassava, through a food security approach and rice from an import replacement approach. It hopes to expand into potato and others in the nearest future. The conversion of cassava peels to feed became paramount after Synergos had gone to study about the food crop in IITA because it was also at this point the country started experiencing farmers – herdsmen brouhaha, so it presented an opportunity not only to convert waste to wealth but to use agriculture as peace creation tool to reduce tension.
As Mr. Ajadi explained at the event, Synergos is not the deliverer of the system change but a catalyst employing a self-development approach to support local ownership so that people they are not dependent on Synergos.
This prototype idea, if it works, according to Ajadi, will be sold back to government with the expectations that it will get investors to invest in the system, and lead to job creation in different fields. For the cassava peel equipment, over 90% of the equipment used in the factory are fabricated using local raw materials by Nigerians.
Saluting the Kogi state government buy-in through membership on the core delivery team, Ajadi advised for more government leadership in the project which he said will be appraised in a year time to see the market viability of the produce and what extent the project has performed in general, for possible replication.
Although there are no feed production data in the state, Ajadi reasons that there is ready market for the product which will cost only 20% of the other forms of feed, and can serve as feeds for fishes, cattle, and goats. He also called for a more purposive role for the media as the communicative frame for development effort. He said the Ojapata initiative was already a purpose of value because it had led to potable water in the community and put women, for the first time, in the forefront of an industrial process in this country.
Besides, he said, what was presumed to be waste is now being turned into cash, while, the collaboration has brought diverse agricultural stakeholders in the state together where they have never as a team.
If the Kogi State prototype works, Synergos is already training its sight at Benue, and Kaduna with more crop focus and raw material, according to Ajadi who said the prototype is also being looked into to provide vitamin A form fortified cassava stems.
An effusive Mr. Ajadi said in Kaduna, Synergos is looking at working with the farmers on ginger and potato as recommended by the stakeholders in the sector since potato can be grown as an alternative to rice.