‘Nigeria Can Earn N3trn From Cassava Yearly’ | Independent Newspapers Limited
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‘Nigeria Can Earn N3trn From Cassava Yearly’

cassava farmers
Posted: Apr 5, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)



Seyi Taiwo-Oguntuase LAGOS


Following the Federal Government’s commitment to diversify the economy from oil to agriculture, stakeholders say Nigeria could earn N3 trillion annually from cassava production.

Mr. Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture, recently raised the ante on the nation’s untapped agricultural sector when he revealed that Nigeria has become the largest producer of cassava in the world with an annual output of 45 million metric tons.

Ogbeh disclosed that the feat was achieved through the domestic research and development of more than 35 improved varieties of cassava registered in Nigeria.

The new cassava varieties which leverage Nigeria to the global number one spot, according to him, would also challenge Nigerians to diversify their potential into greater industrial use beyond consumption.

Segun Adewunmi, National President, Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA), however, said that outside the recorded global feat in cassava production, the current production processes make it near impossible for the country to earn so much from the root cash crop.

“The industrial cassava is what can prosper Nigeria. The cassava we are planting now is not in the standard of the industrial cassava.

“The cassava for food security is what we have now, it is not cassava for industrial consumption; it is only when we are involved in industrial production that we can get maximum revenue from cassava,” he said.

Adewunmi said also that contrary to opinions, cassava has remained a potent but relegated agricultural product needed in diversifying the nation’s foreign exchange earnings.

He said that the inherent value in the product has compelled Malaysia to use micro nutrient in the cultivation of cassava, yielding about 100 tons per hectare.

“For example, we get 15 or 20 maximum from a ton of cassava in a hectare of land and the starch content is 20 percent but for industrial purpose we can make as much as 50 tons from an hectare.

“If the government can embark on modern day mechanized 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. The budget of Nigeria is N6 trillion we can derive half of it from cassava,” he added.

Adewunmi further canvassed the need for government to look inward, especially in the areas of root crops like cassava and other agricultural products for diversified earnings and employment opportunities.

“Cassava has a lot of potentials but other countries that are not getting as much as we get that are into industrial production are getting much more than what we are getting,” he added.

Olufemi Salami, a member of the National Cassava Processors and Marketers Association (NCAPMA), said that government needs to evolve a sustainable policy for cassava value addition, adding that the local content policy should be put in the right perspective.

“It is not that we don’t know what to do, but no political will to follow it to the end. Usually we have comparative advantage as the largest producer and there are other competing products that are being substituted for in various products in Nigeria which the government needs to look out for,” he said.

According to Salami, the nation needs only the right economic blue print to stimulate aggressive mechanized agricultural production, stressing that the absence of a sustainable cassava production framework has relegated its potentials to the background.

Salami also canvassed the need to effectively use cassava value chain to mitigate the increasing unemployment profile of the Nigerian youths through incentive driven agricultural SME packages.

“We know what to do but government is not just looking into cassava for it to work. When they make the policy and make it work they can as well look into SMEs,” he said.