Stakeholders harp on need to harness cassava value chain


The Nigerian Cassava Growers Association (NCGA) has said that the crop has the capacity to generate N10 trillion and save Nigeria over N1.2 trillion from import of derivatives such as ethanol, starch and sweetener.

The Association’s President, Mr Segun Adewunmi, who spoke in Abuja recently, lamented that the huge potential in cassava value chain had not been well explored. He said in spite of being adjudged the highest producer of cassava in the world, Nigeria was not reaping enough from the commodity.

“If the potential in cassava are harnessed, it can give us more money than oil. It is unfortunate that the derivatives that we can use from cassava are being imported into the country.

“Nigeria uses about 400 million litres of ethanol sold at N400 per litre. That means in a year, we import ethanol worth N160 billion.

“Also, Nigeria uses about 1.7 million metric tonnes of starch and that costs us about 30 billion to N40 billion and we import everything.

“Equally, if we have been using 20 per cent flour to substitute wheat in our bread, we will be gaining N200 billion from import duty of wheat.

“Furthermore, sweeteners used in soft drinks and beverage companies, as well as other products used by pharmaceutical companies, can be obtained from cassava and these are estimated to be about N350 billion annually.

“Now, we are supposed to have 10 per cent ethanol in our fuel and this will save N183 billion for us. So, in all, the import that we can use cassava to get is over N1.2 trillion.

“Apart from that, if five million hectares out of the 84 million hectares, are put into industrial cassava production, we will be earning over N10 trillion from cassava derivatives annually.”

The association president said that the derivatives have limitless domestic and export market potential, adding that most of the derivatives can be used as raw materials with limitless market potential.

He said cassava had the potential to transform Nigeria into industrial hub while triggering industrial revolution.

While commending the Federal Government for its effort to reposition agriculture as part of the drive to diversify the country’s economy from oil, Adewunmi said more needed to be done to fully tap into the opportunities in cassava production.

He called for an enabling environment to reduce the cost of production as well as the provision of infrastructure to aid farmers and other stakeholders in the value chain.

“Nigeria’s cassava is the most expensive in the world because we are still practicing crude method of farming. I can mention states in this country that do not have one serviceable tractor.

“If the population of a state is two million for instance, and there is no functioning tractor that can be hired, how would there be improved yield.

The Central  Bank of Nigeria recently announced it will stop providing foreign exchange to importers of cassava and its derivatives as a way to boost local production.

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