Delta plans garri exports to boost commercial farming


By Mercy Kasarachi, Asaba


Garri from Delta State would soon be exported to boost commercial farming in the state. This is as unfolding events in the state have revealed that garri farmers in the state would be moving from subsistence farming to commercial farming, a development that is expected to increase their family finances and as well boost the economy of the state.

This is because the coast is now clear for them to do so following the launching of Delta Quality Garri for Export, an initiative aimed at ensuring the exportation of the staple food beyond the shores of Nigeria.

They are no more to just target the local consumers in Nigeria but also consumers internationally because the ground has been prepared for them already. Consumers are readily waiting for their garri because it has already been marketed to them as a high quality product.

The farmers’ part is to do large scale cassava farming to enable them have huge harvest that would meet the demand out there.

Garri is usually produced from cassava root and undergoes various processing stages until it comes to powdered form and finally fried and preserved to serve meal purpose. The Delta farmers are required to fry the garri to meet the standard given to them. The demand is already there and the market is not the problem as the state government has taken that burden off her shoulder for off-takers to buy off their garri.

Four garri processing units and a garri factory now exist in the state, all for the sake processing, packaging, labeling, branding  and sealing of the product for export.

The product with the name Delta Quality Garri for Export, was launched last week thereby unveiling the product which comes in 2kg sachet and 10kg bag and therefore put the state in the national map as garri exporting state.

The launching was part of the activities marking the 2019 edition of the state’s job creation product exhibition where YAGEP/STEP where youths trained and established by the state government in their various chosen enterprises, showcased their products for the public to see and patronize them.

Recall that on assumption of office in 2015, the state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa had expressed regret that farmers in the state had taken more of subsistence farming. “We want to take it away from that to more of a business amongst our people”, he asserted.

With that burden, he ensured the state executive council approved the project management committee chaired by the chief job creation officer of the state, Eric Eboh and they were charged with the implementation of the production of high quality garri.

The central objective of the state government was to create sustainable and assured market for the state’s agricultural products based on fair prices.

Eboh said the project management committee achieved a milestone in three main areas namely:  human resource capacities for the production of high quality exportable garri in Delta State; in the area of export infrastructural development, the initiative was able to establish the automated factory for the packaging, labelling, branding and sealing a high quality  garri in Delta State.

The four processing units for the processing of the high quality garri are Owa-alero, Nte-Enugu, Abavo and Urokpor. The packaging capacity is in 2kg sachet and 10kg bag even as the food export initiative project has put the state on the national food export map.

Mrs Shimite Bello, the executive secretary, Delta State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (DEMSMA) who also doubles as a member of Delta Quality Garri for export, said the governor has done a good job in terms of trying to actualize the SMART agenda and moving from talking about Delta Beyond Oil to actualizing it.

“From all the areas he was looking at is the agricultural sector and he wanted us to look at the products where we have comparative advantage and the number one area we have comparative advantage is cassava because all the 25 LGAs are into cassava farming, cassava processing and cassava trading”, she said.

She had said, “For us to get to where we are in terms of cassava, we have to involve our time, we have to go the Nigeria Export Promotion Council and find out what was needed. We also looked at the federal government zero initiative to engage with them and see what and what are the aspects. We also consult with NAFDAC to ensure that they check the quality of the cassava because a lot of our products when they get to abroad, they sometimes get turned back. So, we also wanted to ensure that we also have zero reject.”

Speaking while launching the product, Gov Okowa commended the committee for a job well-done.

He expressed hope that in the next few years to come, the initiative would become very impactful on the people of the state “because I know that we are garri farmers, and I know that with this step we have taken, there is going to be a life-changing event for our people.”

He urged Deltans to look out for the prosperity that follows the initiative while expressing hope that the committee would stay in touch and ensure that the product remains in its best quality form that would put the state in the map as a major garri exporter just as he hoped that the production would be strong.

He also urged the ministry of agriculture to keep in touch with farmers and the various farming unions to ensure that the production is not in any way deterred; to also ensure that as it is produced, people are able to also export, working with the committee, he said.

Delta State is seen to be blessed with very rich soil conducive for growing virtually every crop, with most of the cassava farmers producing limited quantity.

With this initiative however it is expected that more youth and women would get themselves involved in agricultural production, particularly cassava production instead of limiting themselves to subsistence level. With this also, they are expected to get out of poverty line and achieve what is called prosperity level, said the Festus Agas, Secretary to the State Government.

From all indications, it is believed that the launch of Delta Quality Garri for Export would take the people of the state to commercial farming level and thereby change their lives and economy for the better.