PThe Ghana Export-Import Bank (GEXIM) has approved a GH¢ 13.5 million facility for an integrated cassava project dubbed, “Cassava Enterprise Project (CEP)”.
The project is to improve and commercialise the use of cassava through cultivation, processing and marketing of derivatives.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GEXIM, Lawrence Agyinsam, who disclosed this at a stakeholder consultative forum yesterday, in Accra, said the approved amount formed part of the fund allocated to GEXIM by the Minister of Finance.
According to the CEO, the project initiated last year in October, was to take advantage of the potentials and opportunities in the cassava industry, while tackling its challenges.
Mr Agyinsam said that the approved amount was calculated to cultivate a total of 5,000 acres of cassava plantation, adding that more than 1,000 out-growers and nucleus farmers were supported with 3,750 acres of cassava farms as part of the strategic objective of enhancing the raw material base under the first phase of the project.
“As part of this project, each three nucleus farmers are being supported to construct a processing factory to convert cassava from their farms into high quality cassava flour for export,” he added.
Mr Aginsam stated that the GEXIM board also approved a total of GH¢ 15,750,000 in 2018, under a special project dubbed, “Seed multiplication.”
This, he explained, was to develop and strengthen access to inputs to ensure adequate and sustainable production and processing along the value chain.
In line with this, Mr Agyinsam said some selected farmers were supported to engage in the production, on-farm propagation and distribution of improved planting material to farmers, saying “a total acreage established was 12,000.”
Highlighting challenges associated with cassava cultivation and processing in the country, Bright Evans Darko, Head of Business Development and Project of GEXIM, said limited access to inputs, particularly improved varieties, was a major challenge.
He mentioned inadequate funding, poor storage infrastructure, high costs of transport due to poor road conditions and short life of cassava roots, among others, as factors that militate against cultivation and processing of cassava.
Mr Darko said more than 700 direct jobs and 500 indirect jobs would be created under the project, which would also create the opportunity for the export of starch, ethanol and cassava chips to earn the country foreign exchange as well as fulfil the industrialisation agenda of the government’s One District One Factory agenda.
By Abeduwaa Lucy Appiah