Cassava: With $600m import derivatives, CBN moves to resuscitate value chain in Nigeria

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WorldStage Newsonline– The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has taken strategic move to facilitate a signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), between the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association and Large Scale Cassava Processors as part of moves to resuscitate the cassava value chain in the country.

Speaking at the MoU signing on Tuesday in Abuja, CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele identified cassava as the most important economic crop in the world, adding that Nigeria is the largest producer; producing about 53.0 million MT in 2018, but with a very low average yield of about 7.7 MT per hectare as compared to 23.4 MT and 22.2 MT per ha in Indonesia and Thailand respectively.  

The occasion was witnessed by state governors of cassava producing states which include, Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi,  Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu , Ogun State Deputy Governor and key stakeholders in cassava sector.

He said, “Statistics however, show that out of the 53.0 million MT of cassava produced in Nigeria annually; more than 90% is processed into food for human consumption whereas a significant industrial demand exists for the output of processed cassava, primarily as substitute for imported raw materials and semi-finished products.

The Apex bank governor, noted that when compared to other countries in the world, Nigeria has the best climate and land resources to produce and process sufficient cassava; “good enough; not only for consumption, but also for industrial use and export as the country enjoys both absolute and comparative advantage in producing the commodity.

“May I also draw your attention to the fact that aside from foreign exchange conservation, increasing cassava production is a necessity as starch, glucose, sorbitol and other products currently being imported proffers no future for the nation in the long-term, in view of the fact that Nigeria imports cassava derivatives valued at over $600 million annually.

“Permit me to share with you the gap and potential demand that exists in our cassava value chain; Demand for High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) in bread, biscuits and snacks  is above  500,000t annually while supply  is below 15,000t; Demand for cassava starch is above 300,000t annually while supply is below 10,000t

“Demand for cassava-based constituents in sugar syrup is above  350,000t annually while supply is almost nonexistent; Potential demand for ethanol in Nigeria as a fuel for cooking, to power vehicles (E10), and other industrial uses exceeds 1 billion litres, while production is nearly zero.”

On his part, Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman Governor’s forum Kayode Fayemi, commended the CBN governor for spearheading the revolution in strategic key sectors of the economy.

He said, “I’m happy that this initiative is dealing with the farmers who are the out growers. It’s also dealing with the product itself, improving the yield because the CBN governor spoke to us about working with Umudike and working with IITA in Ibadan.

“If we expand the land available, what will make this more profitable for our growers is yield. The yield per Ethanol is very low; we can increase it if we get the right steps for our farmers and if we also ensure that we reclaim the land for them by clearing the land ensuring we give them supporting security.

 “The areas that we need to also look at is security for the farmers in the southwest is a major challenge that we’re dealing with every day, even as I’m here with you farms are been destroyed in my state today by herder as well as in Ondo State. I know it’s a major issue we should really find a way to support  

Governor of Ondo State, also commended the CBN for the intervention in the issue of cassava, saying, “We have been talking and I want to thank the governor of CBN, and he has accepted to look at the issue of cassava and cocoa too.

“Cassava is what we have come here to discuss today. We have so many growers, and even in Ondo State today we have an industry that is almost consuming all the cassava that we have and they are still buying from outside, so it’s important that if we are able to have so many people to grow cassava as we intend to do with this facilities we are talking of.”

The National President Nigeria Cassava Growers Association pastor Segun Adewumi also lauded CBN initiative, saying Nigeria cassava growers were equal to the task save for security threat pose by Fulani herders.

He also commended Ekiti State governor for making available certificate of occupancy (C of O) for 6,000 hectares of land allocated to cassava growers in his state.