The Federal Government says it is planning to set up a cassava
processing centre in Ogoniland to serve as an alternative source of
livelihood for the people of the area.

Dr Marvin Dekil, Project Coordinator, Hydrocarbon Pollution
Remediation Project (HYPREP), under the Ministry of Enviroment, made
the disclosure on Friday.

He was speaking at the graduation of 15 Ogonis from the International
Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Onne, Rivers.

According to Dekil, who was represented by HYPREP’s Head of Legal
Services, Mrs Grace Ekanem, the centre will be used to generate income
and make Ogoniland become an economic hub for cassava processing in
the Niger Delta region.

To this end, the 15 Ogonis whom we are graduating today were trained
on fabrication of cassava processing machines.

HYPREP will ensure their skills are put to good use with the set-up of
a cassava processing centre that would generate income and create
economic hub for the communities, he said.

Dekil, said the training was in line with the UN Environment Programme
(UNEP) Report recommendation on Ogoniland.

According to him, the UNEP Report recommended that the Federal
Government should provide alternative source of livelihood for oil
impacted communities of Ogoniland.

So, HYPREP, in a tripartite collaboration with the Stakeholders
Democracy Network (SDN) and IITA, developed the template for the
training aimed to empower Ogoni youths.

Three months ago, we ushered in 15 young men and women into a life
transforming training in the fabrication of machines for the
processing of cassava.

It has been a long journey for the trainees, who have had previous
training in machine fabrication. The trainees are the first batch of
the programme, he said.

Dekil urged the trainees to leverage on the opportunities provided by
the training to change their lives and become good ambassadors of
their communities.

He commended the IITA and SDN for supporting the programme and assured
the FG’s commitment to full implementation of the Ogoni clean-up

He added that no fewer than 400 women, 100 from each of the four local
government areas that make up Ogoniland, would be trained on
vocational skills in agriculture.

The women will be trained for six months in different skills by the
United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) at the
Songhai farms (in Tai LGA of Rivers).

The training will be in batches until a total of 1,200 Ogoni women are
trained in the livelihood programme, he assured.

Also speaking, Dr Richardson Okechukwu, Head of Station of IITA said
the 15 trainees were taught how to fabricate basic processing machines
for roasters, graters, presser, bhurr mill, sifter, peeling and
cabinet dryer.

He said the centre specialised on agro-business and crop value-chain
processing in cassava, plantain, maize and banana as well as
post-harvest processing.

On his part, SDN’s Senior Project Officer, Jesse-Martin Manufor said
that cassava is a staple food for many Nigerians as well as important
cash crop that produces garri, starch and flour.

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