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The federal government, represented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development,has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Bank of Industry (BoI) for the bank to manage the N4.3 billion cassava bread fund that would  support  small and medium enterprises (SMEs), master bakers and large  industrial cassava flour mills.

The Bank of Industry (BOI) and Bank of Agriculture (BOA) are to manage disbursement of the N9.9billion cassava bread fund released by President Goodluck Jonathan, according to the Minister of Agriculture Dr. Akinwumi Adesina. N4.3 billion will be disbursed by the BOI to support Small and Medium Scale Enterprises SMEs, who are involved in cassava processing, while the BOA is to manage N2.4 billion of the fund in collaboration with 13 key private stakeholders, he said.

Adesina said: “It will be 50% grant 50% loan. And you will agree with me that this is a huge step forward in terms of supporting our farmers to produce more cassava.”

This is even as the Managing Director of the BoI, Ms Evelyn Oputu, who signed on behalf of the bank   pledged that the bank would work closely with the stakeholders to ensure that the fund was properly utilised.

The MD said that the nation would save a lot of money in foreign exchange from the implementation of the federal government’s policy of 20% cassava substitution in bread and other confectioneries by the year 2014, and noted that the bank would continue to drive the nation’s agriculture transformation policy.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, who signed  on behalf of the federal government, said  Nigeria’s revenue from cassava production would increase exponentially, following how output has been doubled in the last one year to ensure the nation continues to retain its position as the largest producer of the crop in the world.

Adesina disclosed that a total of N1.5 billion has been set aside for the upgrade of the capacity of 35 existing small cassava flour mills in the country.

This support, according to the minister, would be provided in the form a 50 per cent loan and 50 per cent grant, while the BoI would provide a working capital of N425 billion as loans  to SME cassava flour  processors at single digit  rate.

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