The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said on Tuesday that it was partnering with the Bank of Industry, BOI, to make available a N4.3 billion loan facility to support the production of cassava bread in Nigeria.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, said at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, in Abuja that the facility was designed to support master bakers, and help Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs, SMEs, realise the goals of the cassava bread initiative.
The minister said the facility, which would also promote the activities of large scale industrial cassava flour millers, would be used to upgrade their production capacity, and serve as working capital to support bakers acquire new machinery and equipment.
He said a total of 5,000 master bakers would be trained under the arrangement, in addition to the financial support, to enable them acquire new baking equipment, such as rotary ovens, chillers and mixers for baking cassava bread.
Within the next 12 months, the minister said the 5,000 bakers across the country would be producing cassava bread, while the production of high quality cassava flour would have expanded significantly.
He said further that N1.05 billion of the facility would be used to upgrade the capacity of 35 existing small cassava flour mills in the country, adding that the support would be provided as 50 per cent loan and 50% grant to the beneficiaries.
Under the arrangement, the BOI would provide working capital of N425 million as loan to the SME cassava flour processors at single digit interest rate, while about N468 million would go to medium and large-scale cassava flour millers as working capital loans at single digit interest rates.
The minister said another N2.2 billion would be used to support master bakers and industrial bakers as 50% loans and grants to help them acquire new machinery and other tools.
The Cassava Bread Fund established by the Federal Government earlier this year, he said, would be managed in a transparent manner, ensuring rapid commercialisation of the cassava bread project.