The Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (Rtd) on Wednesday said the Amnesty Programme was collaborating with Bayelsa Starch plant on training.
The 60-metric ton daily capacity Cassava Processing Factory in Bayelsa will train and employ the ex-agitators on cassava farming and starch processing.
The plant designed to process starch from cassava, was built by the Bayelsa government at Ebedebiri, Sagbama Local Government Area, Bayelsa.
Dikio, who was represented by his Special Assistant on Projects, Godwin Ekpo, spoke on Wednesday when he inspected the multi-billion naira factory.
He said that about 1,000 ex-militants were expected to be trained in the cassava value chain and employed as outgrowers of cassava stems to feed the factory’s operations.
He said such an arrangement was in line with the PAP’s Train-Employ and Mentor (TEM) empowerment strategy.
He said the decision to send ex-agitators to the facility also aligned with the food security focus of PAP’s programme.
Dikio said delegates would learn cassava cultivation, production, processing, equipment maintenance and other businesses involved in the cassava value chain.
“This is a 60 metric ton cassava processing plant. It has a huge capacity and it is part of the facility that we will use for our “Train, Employ and Mentor empowerment strategy.
“Even if everybody in this community plants cassava, it has the capacity to absorb all of it. We can see the entire value chain.
“This is a facility that will help many of our delegates and give them employment. It is an incredible facility located in the region.
“It will help them and also achieve our vision of turning these ex-agitators into entrepreneurs”, he said.
The Project Management Consultant for the facility, Mr. Adebowale Ayoade, described it as the biggest industrial starch plant in Nigeria and the second largest in Sub-Saharan Africa.
He said that the delegates will receive theoretical and practical training on cassava cultivation and farm management.
He further explained that the factory will buy all the cassava from the delegates’ farms and they will be certified by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
“They will be taught theoretical and practical cassava farming courses from beginning to end, both in the classrooms and farms. The people who are coming to conduct the training are IITA certified trainers.
“The factory can do 60,000 metric tons of industrial starch working at a single shift of 250 days in a year and what that translates to is that we need about 200,000 tons of cassava to feed it. We need to farm on 10, 000 hectares of land,” he said.
The State’s Commissioner for Agriculture, David Alagoa, described training ex-agitators at the facility as a win-win situation for the ex-agitators.