Local cassava firm fills void left by drop in raw materials imports

PSALTRY International Company Limited, an Oyo State-based grower and processor of high-grade cassava starch is filling a void left by a drop in imports of raw materials used by local beverage companies and other Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) firms. The drop in imports has created a surge in demand for local cassava starch which is a close substitute of maltose, an ingredient used in beverages and other products. The surge in local demand was caused by a high dollar exchange rate precipitated by low oil price, a situation that has forced many local manufacturers to abandon imports of raw materials with local substitutes.

When the price of dollar went up there was rush for our products. In fact, I don’t know where to start and end because those who were not buying from us before and who were importing could not import anymore. Today, we have big clienteles, even May & Baker, Unilever and some packaging companies are coming to us. So, we are trying to build capacity to meet their demands,” said Mrs. Oluyemisi Iranloye, Managing Director of PSALTRY Int’l at a media briefing.

Cassava starch is used by manufacturing companies as binder and to produce sugar, that is maltose.

The company which began its business in 2005 as a cassava produce marketer later expanded its business line to include farm development and production of food grade starch from cassava.

Today, PSALTRY Int’l which is located in Alayide-Wasimi Village, Ado-Awaye, Oyo State grows cassava on 400-hectres of farmland in a farming community of 10,000 hectres and had 2016 revenue of N1.22bn ($4 million).

Iranloye, noted that “We started production in 2013. You could imagine the amount of foreign exchange that only this company is saving Nigeria in import substitution every year, it’s quite huge – $4 million dollars in 2016.

She counts Nigerian Breweries Plc as its biggest customer, consuming about 60% of its total production in a year. Others are Nestle Nigeria Plc, 30% and Ibadan-based Yale Foods, 10%.

Iranloye noted that the company has two production lines – a 20-ton per day starch factory which began in 2013 and a 30-ton line that became operational in 2015. In total, 50 tonnes or two trailer loads of cassava starch are processed daily. She adds that the total tonnage for the year is 6,000 tonnes, well below its annual capacity of 10,000 metric tonnes.

The MD applauded Nigerian Breweries Plc, its biggest customer for paying in advance.

One of the good things NB did is that they give us advance payment so that our cash flow can be better and we were able to pay farmers as they supplied raw materials. We needed the money to come in quickly so that we can meet up in paying the farmers,” she noted.

In the future, Iranloye sees its farmers becoming shareholders in the company.

We want our farmers to start having shares in the company. That is our 2018/2019 focus. Farmers who have been with us will start having shares,” she said.

The company which received project funding of N1bn from First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) and First City Monument Bank (FCMB) noted that its staff strength has increased from 10 people eight years ago to 400.

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