By Essien Ndueso
To fulfill Governor Udom Emmanuel’s promise of making Garri sufficient and affordable to Akwa Ibom people, the state government has set out to establish Garri processing plants in the ten federal constituencies of the state. The proposed garri mills are to be replicas of the three already existing Mills in the three Senatorial Districts of the state with a production capacity of 5 Tons of Garri per day, bringing to a total of 50 tons of Garri per day on completion.
The secretary of the State Technical Committee on Agriculture and Food Sufficiency, Pastor Sunny Ibuot disclosed this to newsmen at the cassava plant in Okon- Eket, said at the moment, government is gearing efforts at boosting availability of cassava, the major raw material with plans to cultivate 2,500 hectares of cassava by the end of the year. This he said was an increase from the already cultivated 1,450 hectares through the ongoing FADAMA 111 programme.
This is outside the numerous cassava out-grower farms across the state and those of cooperative societies. Governor Emmanuel has also taken a step further by also giving incentives to encourage cassava cultivation through subsidized cassava cuttings, cassava stem multiplication, fertilizers and extension services.
Some of the beneficiaries of the scheme who were excited told reporters that they now have cassava stems that can be ready for harvesting, after only four months, saying the new improved stem is commonly known as ‘makkosa.’
The cassava mill has two sets of processes, both the manual and mechanized processes. Under the manual process, the local women are paid daily to complement the services of the machines. One elderly woman who spoke to our reporter admitted that she earned a daily take home pay of at least 1500, which gives her more than N45,000 a month.
One major distinction in the processing process at the Akwa Ibom Cassava mills, is the high standard hygienic measure put in place for workers at the mills; consumers are assured of good quality and increased supply of garri to beat the high market cost of the product.
It is worthy of note that the garri produced at the mill can stay for as long as 9 months as there are no chemical additives to the Garri throughout the production process. Although the Garri is yet to break in fully into the Akwa Ibom market, it is however gradually gaining attention from its very special packaged bags, with the adorning pictures of the Governor Mr Udom Emmanuel and wife, Mrs Martha Emmanuel. The come in different sizes of 5kg, 10kg and 25kg. The mill also produces Cassava flour known as Larryvita.
In the value chain of the product, it is now easier and better for cassava farmers as they are assured of the ready markets for the purchase of their cassava. Farmers are longer going to be forced to sell off their products at give-away prices for fear of losing them, as they can now comfortably avail themselves of the off takers at the state processing mills. Those who were discouraged from cassava farming because of lack of ready markets are now returning to the farm. And what’s more, the culture of planting and waiting for one full year to harvest is now history with the ‘makkosa’ specie cassava plant that is ready for consumption in four months. With these, we can comfortably say, the glorious days have just begun.