Harnessing The Potentials In Cassava Production | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Harnessing The Potentials In Cassava Production

Posted: Apr 11, 2016 at 7:24 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Recently Chief Audu Ogbe, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development restated Nigeria’s huge potentials in cassava when he revealed that the country has become the largest producer of cassava in the world with an annual output of 45 million metric tons. Ogbe said this growth was achieved through indigenous research and development of more than 35 improved varieties of cassava registered in Nigeria which upped the country to the global number one position.

In a related development, Segun Adewunmi, National President, Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA) also said, “If the government can embark on modern day mechanised farming for youths, we can make more money from cassava than we are making from oil. By my estimate we can make at least N3 trillion from cassava annually…”

Cassava is a multi-purpose crop, which is grown by a lot of farmers in the country. But unfortunately most of the investors and industrialists seem not to be aware of the investment opportunities, which the cassava industry offers. Indeed, despite being consistently ranked as the world’s greatest producer of cassava, the country still depends on oil as a major means of income, whereas cassava is gradually being transformed from a staple food to a cash crop for urban consumption. With the dwindling oil revenue, perhaps there is no better time than now for massive investment in the production of high yielding cassava in the country by government and the private sector.

Undoubtedly, apart from the local consumption of cassava as food, it is also a high yielding raw material for the manufacture of other products. Cassava is used in the making of starch, drugs, sweeteners, glues, plywood, textiles, paper, biodegradable products and monosodium glutamate. Cassava flour is used for bread making, while cassava chips and pellets are used for animal feed. Only recently, it was revealed that large production of the crop could lead to an increase in income of 1.8 million  farmers in the country by $450 yearly and the generation of 1,000,000 jobs in the rural areas over the next 3 years.

There is indeed a potential demand of 250,000 tons annually in the high quality cassava flour, primarily from 20 percent replacement in bread flour and for use in bouillon, noodles, and the adhesive industry, a demand that is reportedly equivalent of 1.2 million tons of fresh tubers. Again, demand for native and modified starches exceeds 230,000 tons yearly in the food, paint and pharmaceutical industries, with another one million tons of fresh tuber.

The cassava potentials in the country’s economy would, therefore, increase food security, reduce poverty, generate more jobs for the youths and increase foreign exchange earnings. The high economic potentials of cassava output, if well utilised will prop up the country’s ailing economy. However, to harness the huge financial value in cassava production, government must provide the enabling environment for farmers and investors to thrive.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) needs to encourage farmers with access to funds from specialised banks for industrial growth. Indeed, corporate partners in both private and public sectors should invest significantly on research, along with the country’s tertiary institutions with a view to enhancing local farmers’ productivity.

Certainly, cassava marketing is a veritable option for sustainable agricultural growth in the country.