Nigeria’s economic development received a major boost with the commissioning of a multi-million naira ETHANOL plant at Igbesa, Ogun State by Allied Atlantic Distillers Limited.
The firm is the first Cassava-based plant in Africa, specifically for the production of extra neutral alcohol (ENA) also known as Ethanol. The plant, a product of the backward integration of the present government on cassava policy is expected to supply raw material to distillers, pharmaceutical companies and other industries that require ethanol as an input.
At the commissioning on Thursday, the Chairman of the company, Mr. Ola Rosiji said the company has over 8,000 farmers located within Igbesa and its environs in Ogun and Oyo states. This is an out growers scheme providing indirect employment to more than 40,000 people.
The company also provides extension and farm support services to farmers in her bid to increase the income of farmers through the provision of agronomy package practices, improved variety, seed planting, mechanization and harvesting support. In addition to the ethanol the plant, the company will produce carbon dioxide (CO2) for use in various industries such as the soft drinks Industry, he added.
The establishment of this factory will result in a reduction in dependence on imported ENA thereby saving in spending foreign exchange and increase jobs in the industrial sector.
The Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Adewunmi Adesina praised the initiative, noting that it is a record breaking event for the world’s largest producer of cassava and a testimony of the success of the Federal Government policy on Cassava and Sugar.
Adesina said: “Cassava is a commodity in focus with value addition in five points including the confectionery and pharmaceutical sectors and a massive job creator.”
He regretted that before now though the country was the largest producer of cassava globally it had no place in the international market unlike a country such as Thailand that controlled 84 per cent of the global market even though it is the third largest Cassava producer. The minister said the resultant effect is the rapid growth of the economy to the point of having only about 0.4 per cent unemployment figure unlike Nigeria with a huge unemployment figure.
Adesina who was represented by the Technical Adviser on Cassava in the ministry, Mrs. Olatunji Oluwatoyin said government intervention on cassava comes with different advantages such as the creation of jobs for millions of people while growing the small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) engaged in the sector.
Governor Ibikunle Amosun said the nation can only record economic growth, sustainability, security through initiatives such as this where a lot of people are gainfully employed and farming made attractive because farmers know they have a ready market for their products.
He said, the value addition into cassava will reduce the dependence on foreign exchange, stressing that any nation that fails to develop her agricultural sector can neither grow her economy nor her people. The governor noted that in Malaysia cassava has being put into 23 uses which has grown the economy as one of the largest in Asia.
While commending the effort of Allied Atlantic Distilleries for the ground breaking project, he called on other corporate organizations to borrow a leaf from the company’s achievement.
He encouraged the company not to relent in her Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to the community in order to ensure harmony and prosperity for all stakeholders and also encouraged traditional rulers and communities to be ready to negotiate with credible investors on the use of their land instead of holding on to fallow land with no value addition.
He advised the Federal Government to live up to her responsibilities by providing the needed infrastructure to encourage industrialists to thrive while pledging the readiness of his administration to continue to provide the necessary infrastructure and enabling environment for industries to prosper.