Build $110m cassava ethanol refinery

An indigenous firm, Crown Agro-Allied Industries Limited, has concluded plans to build an integrated cassava ethanol fuel refinery in Ikole, Ekiti State, at an estimated cost of $110m.

The Chairman, New Partnership for African Development’s Pan African Cassava Initiative, and director, Crown Agro-Allied, Mr. Boma Anga, said this in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja.

According to him, the project is made up of a 10,000- hectare cassava farm, 200,000 litres per day fuel ethanol refinery, 60 tonnes per day carbon dioxide plant, and a waste treatment bio-gas plant for the production fertiliser.

He said that the projected would be completed within 18 months, adding that arrangements had been concluded with technical partners from China to ensure the completion of the project as scheduled

Anga said, “The project is an integrated project comprising a 10,000-hectare cassava farm, 200,000 litres per day fuel ethanol refinery; a 60-tonne per day CO2 plant and waste treatment and bio gas plant that will generate fertiliser.

“We have already finalised arrangements with our technical partners from China and they have assured us that within the next six months, the first phase of the project will be completed, while the entire project is expected to be completed within 18 months.

“The cassava farm that will feed the factory will take between 18–24 months to be established because it will be the largest cassava farm the world. It will cover about 12,900 hectares. Systematically, we have commenced the establishment of a seed nursery to ensure we have enough capacity to produce the highest grade and quantity of ethanol per yield.”

He also said, “With the Federal Government showing interest in the development of fuel ethanol, there is now a revival of interest from the financial sector to back up the project.

“Initially, the banks were a bit reluctant because they did not know whether the Federal Government will follow up with policy, which started with the former President Obasanjo administration.

“The government is showing enormous interest now. We will be benefiting from the Agricultural Credit Scheme, especially from the feedstock aspect.”

Already, we have placed a demand of N2bn with a leading commercial bank in Nigeria, and have got a no objection from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“All other things being equal, and God helping us, the cassava ethanol refinery will come on stream within18months. The project, estimated to cost about $110m is the brainchild of Crown Agro-Allied Investment Limited, an indigenous private sector consortium.”

Analysts say fuel ethanol, an anti-knock additive in gasoline, is set to emerge as an important motor fuel in view of the Kyoto Protocol agreement which Nigeria is signatory to.

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