Friday, July 3, 2020
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CBN’s Cassava Initiative

Despite being the world’s largest producer of cassava, with production of more than 53 million tonnes annually, Nigeria has not maximised its benefits apart from its principal  use for local consumption, especially in the making of staples like  akpu and garri. Derivatives that can be gotten from cassava are numerous.

They include animal feeds, high quality flour, chips, bread, biscuit, and snacks, among others. Cassava is also used as glue for plywood, for food and beverages, textile, pharmaceuticals and glucose.

Statistics show that out of the 53  million metric tonnes of cassava produced in the country  annually, more than 90 per cent is processed into food for human consumption, whereas a huge gap for  industrial demand exists for the output of processed cassava, primarily as substitutes for imported raw materials and semi-finished products.

Demands  that exist  in the nation’s  cassava value chain,  include High-Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) for the making of  bread, biscuits and snacks  put at  above  500,000 tonnes ,annually,  while supply is below 15,000 tonnes. 

Likewise, demand  for cassava starch is above 300,000 tonnes annually, while supply is below 10,000 tonnes. Statistics also show that   demand for cassava-based constituents in sugar syrup in the country   is above  350,000 tonnes annually, while supply is almost zero.

What is more,  potential demand for ethanol in the country as a fuel for cooking, to power vehicles, and other industrial uses exceeds  one billion litres, while production is  nearly zero. 

Apart from these deficits in the cassava value chain,   we received with concern  the recent revelation by  the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele   that the country imports cassava derivatives worth  about 600 million dollars annually. 

This is alarming and must not be allowed to continue in the interest of the nation’s economy.  It is in the move towards checking this loss of foreign exchange and the need to create jobs for more  Nigerians  that we  welcome the recent  CBN ‘s  Memorandum of Understanding signed with the crop’s stakeholders  like  the   Nigeria Cassava Growers’ Association and Large Scale Cassava Processors to reverse the trend.  Good enough,  Nigeria is  blessed with several varieties of the crop  that could be explored to optimum potential.

Emefiele stated  at the signing ceremony in Abuja  recently  that there was the  need to adopt improved varieties and practices that would guarantee better yield, better processing efficiency, increased profit and improved standard of living for the farmers.

Towards  achieving this goal,  he said CBN was holding consultations with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan and the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike.

He added  that CBN was taking bolder steps in collaborating with the private sector, state governments in Nigeria’s cassava producing areas and other stakeholders towards resuscitating the cassava sector.  We wish to laud the apex bank for another bold step aimed at strengthening the agricultural sector for which cassava production is a key component. 

There is no doubt that CBN’s intervention in rice production has impacted positively on rice and other crops production in the country.  The recent apex bank’s initiative, which is hoped will create more than two million jobs in the crop’s value  chain is another initiative that should be given the required support from the various stakeholders to succeed. 

The success of the progamme will no doubt impact positively in addressing food insecurity facing some parts of the country, and most importantly go a long way in lifting the nation out of poverty through enhanced incomes for farmers. 

Through the cassava initiative and similar others in the real sector, we hope that  the nation will regain itself from  unenviable tag as  the poverty capital of the world.

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