Discover Income Generating Potentials Of Cassava Value Chain | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Discover Income Generating Potentials Of Cassava Value Chain

Posted: May 1, 2016 at 3:09 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Celestine Amoke, Lagos


Cassava is shrub with an edible root cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. It is rich in carbohydrates, calcium, vitamins B and C and minerals. Starch is an essential component of cassava products such as food, confectionery, sweeteners, glues, plywood, textiles, paper, biodegradable products, monosodium glutamate, and drugs.

Cassava chips and pellets are used in animal feed and alcohol production.

Subsistent farmers who sell their surplus mainly grow it for food, but cassava has many derivatives. It grows well in poor soils and requires limited labour.

Cassava is usually inter-cropped with vegetables and other crops such as maize, yam, sweet potato, melon, rice, groundnut and other legumes. The roots take between six months and three years to mature, depending on the species.

Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava with an annual output of 45 million metric tons.

In 2004, she was producing 40 million tons up from 36 million tons.  Brazil is the world’s second largest producer with only 24 million tons while Thailand is third with 20 tons.  However, Thailand is the most industrialised country in cassava production, followed by Brazil.  In this regard, Nigeria’s productivity is still the lowest.

Cassava grows in all parts of Nigeria.  But it is found mainly in the southern part of the country. States like Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Edo, Lagos, Kogi, Plateau, Enugu, Ebonyi and Anambra are foremost producers.

Cassava is one agricultural produce that has the potential to generate a lot of money along the value chain, ranging from farming, processing, packaging to marketing and export.

Food Security

Cassava contributes to national food security. It is a staple food in Nigeria as a whole. It is consumed routinely and in large quantities on a daily basis.

Cassava, I several forms, is a common feature of the menu in most homes. It is a source of energy requirement in food and the demand for cassava remains high because it can be processed into varieties of food such as fufu, garri, cassava powder, and so on, and prepared in a variety of ways to assuage hunger.

Processing Value Addition

The agriculture value chain is the secondary stage of processing and adding value to raw materials either for industrial purposes or for consumption.  This is where the money is.

The Agricultural Transformation Agenda of the Federal Government encourages farmers to move from primary production of farm produce to processing and marketing.

An agro-processor could take advantage of the cheap and often wasted agro-products due to spoilage in the farms and reap huge profits by adding value to the raw materials and also encourage farmers to produce more since they are assured that their products would be purchased by the agro- processors.

There are many wealth creation opportunities in the production and processing of cassava, a wonder crop from which about 2,500 industrial products can be derived.

One can create a lot of value-added commodities capable of building fabulous wealth for farmers as well as raw materials for processors and numerous jobs for the unemployed. For instance, skilled entrepreneurs who appreciate hygienic production of food, attractive packaging and reputable food brand names that deliver on promises can leverage on the opportunities that abound in processing and adding value to create more wealth. One can process cassava into garri, flour, glucose, biscuits and so on.

Cassava Leaves

Cassava leaves, which are usually thrown away during harvest, can be processed into livestock feed such as silage, cassava leaf meal and pellets. The cassava leaf is a good source of protein for ruminants and a ton of it is sold for about $100.

In Nigeria, there are about 3.5 million hectares of cassava across the country.  Cassava leaves can be translated to money for those who want to venture into its exploitation.


Compared to other crops such as rice, wheat, maize, yam and sorghum, cassava has the highest yield of carbohydrate or starch.  The global demand for starch is very high and still rising. Cassava is the best and cheapest crop that yields starch. For those who want to produce starch, the return on investment is very high.

Instead of sugar, starch-based sweeteners such as glucose could be used in the production of soft drinks. Such sweeteners are safer because the body can absorb all of them.


Since Nigeria has an urgent need to move away from being an oil-dependent economy, cassava is an excellent means of diversifying the economy. This is because fuel and ethanol could be produced from cassava thus providing a substitute for petrol.

For Nigeria, fuel from cassava is even better than fuel from hydrocarbons because it is free from all the problems associated with oil exploitation such as gas flaring, environmental degradation and militancy.

Brazil has been running her motor engines on ethanol produced from cassava for the past 50 years, and the same can be replicated in Nigeria with a handsome reward on investment for anyone who pioneers the venture here in the country.

Export Potentials

Cassava chips and pellets export is a bilklion-dollar business. Pellets are used in animal feed and alcohol production. They are foreign exchange earners through export of starch and other products.

The Federal Government and stakeholders have been encouraging export of Nigerian products to enhance the nation’s foreign exchange revenue and discourage over-reliance on petroleum products export as the main source of foreign exchange.

Cassava has been identified as a product to beat in the diversification of the economy. It can be exported in three ways: as a human food, starch, and animal feed ingredient.

The major cassava export markets are Europe and North America. But there are smaller markets such as China, Japan and Korea. A handsome return on investment awaits anyone who ventures into it.

However, there is need to move away from cassava for food security to production of industrial cassava to increase the chances of earning more foreign exchange. Those interested in this agribusiness should leverage on availability of new cassava varieties and embrace mechanisation to surmount the challenges of global demand.

Drug Manufacture

Cassava is used as a health product to treat HIV/AIDS, kwashiokor and other ailments.

Wheat Substitute

Cassava can be used to substitute for imported wheat flour, sugar, monosodium glutamate and other items in bread production.

In 2014, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, pursued the policy of 20 per cent inclusion of cassava in bread production. With the adoption of 20 per cent HQCF in wheat for bread and confectioneries production, Nigeria was saving about N127 billion annually and could save up to N200 billion.

The initiative has attracted big foreign and local investors such as Cargil Incorporated and Flour Mills of Nigeria thereby creating employment opportunities.

The Federal Government earmarked N2.2 billion for the success of the initiative. The loan is accessible through the Bank of Industry.

However, some constraints to full commercialisation of the cassava bread include poor awareness, short shelf life, substandard cassava flour, lack of training and equipment for production. So, any entrepreneur who can embark on vigorous research and provide answers to these constraints will no doubt soon smile to the bank.


It has to be emphasised that training is very important in any agribusiness one goes into to avoid mistakes that might ruin the business. One must acquire new knowledge and skills needed for a successful business. Such training could be got from the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), Lagos, which has trained several bakers and millers on cassava bread, for instance. Whichever stage of the value chain you want to explore, some form of training is required.

Cassava has raised the income of farmers, helping Nigeria to diversify the economy. It has also created sustainable demand in the industrial food, beverage, chemical and export sectors for cassava and cassava-based products through import substitution.

It might be your own turn to make money. Grab the opportunity.