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Why CBN is Funding Large Scale Cassava Production – Emefiele

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele said on Thursday, that the Bank decided to fund large scale production of cassava because it has the potential for employing over two million Nigerians.


Emefiele spoke at a meeting with State Governors of Cassava Producing States and Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Nigeria Cassava Growers Association and Large Scale Cassava Processors at the corporate headquarters of the CBN in Abuja.
“We place a high premium on cassava because the commodity can generally be used for different things along the value chain.
The value chain has enormous potential for employing over 2 million people in Nigeria if well harnessed, due to the diverse secondary products that it offers. 
“Some of the products include High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF), Starch, Sugar Syrups & Sweeteners, Chips  for domestic livestock feed and for export to China, Ethanol/bio-fuels, High Fructose Cassava Syrup (HFCS), Fuel Ethanol (E10) as well as Animal Feed from cassava waste among others”.
The Governor stated that there were large corporations like Nestle, Flour mills, Promasidor, Unilever which require the secondary outputs from cassava such as starch, glucose, sorbitol etc as raw materials for the production of their final products. 
According to him, “we also have the companies whose responsibility is the processing of cassava to starch, glucose, ethanol etc as well as members of the Cassava farmers association. 
“The other very important stakeholder present here today are State Governors and their representatives whose primary responsibility is making land available particularly to our unemployed teaming youths to embrace cassava production and processing in Nigeria.   
“Our presence here today is therefore,  an indication of our commitment to revitalize cassava production and processing by encouraging private sector investors to participate in the Nigerian economy. Through this initiative, you will agree with me that employment opportunities can be boosted in Nigeria, and industrial output can be accelerated for the good of Nigeria. 
“The stakeholders in this gathering have all it takes to positively transform the status of cassava production and processing in Nigeria. I want to confirm in absolute terms the CBNs preparedness to reverse the current trend in line with our commitment to social investment by partnering with the major stakeholders towards developing a blueprint that would facilitate the development of Nigerias cassava value chain on a sustainable basis”.

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Emefiele pointed out that the aim of bringing together all stakeholders in the value chain is to agree on a framework for modern production and processing of cassava by ensuring that “we identify and tackle all major challenges in the value chain from seedlings production, land clearing, planting, harvesting, processing, marketing and provision of extension services among others”.


Stressing the importance of cassava as an agricultural commodity the Governor recalled that participants during the Fourth International Cassava Conference held in Cotonou, Benin Republic in June 2018 agreed that cassava is currently the 4th most important food crop in the world, after maize, wheat and rice and is grown on over 24 million hectares in 105 countries in the world with Nigeria as the leading producer.

“Cassava represents one of the most important economic crops in the world. Today, the world market for the commodity is one of the most dynamic with the volume of production and foreign trade growing steadily. 
“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. 
“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. 
“We are particularly interested in the cassava value chain because it is in line with President Muhammadu Buharis economic diversification programme for Nigeria. 
“This is because economic diversification is an essential tool for national development and we are leaving no stone unturned towards repositioning Nigeria on the map of the world not just as the leading cassava producer but a processor as well. 
“Compared with any other country of the world, Nigeria has one of 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”, he added.

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He pointed out that even though the nation was blessed with several varieties of cassava that could be explored to optimum potential, there was need to adopt improved varieties and practices that would  guarantee better yield, better processing efficiency, increased profit and improved standard of living for farmers. 
He said, to realise this goal, the CBN was holding consultations with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan and the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike.

He also noted that aside from foreign exchange conservation, increasing cassava production was 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 $600m annually.

 He said it was on this premise that the CBN included cassava in the FX exclusion list to salvage the industry, encourage farmers to go back to their farms to boost jobs creation and increase output and improve the capacity utilization of our processing companies. 
Governors of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, his Ondo state counterpart, and the Deputy Governor of Ogun State attended the meeting.


Agriculture

Oyetola Distributes 100,000 Cocoa Seedlings to Farmers

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Gov. Gboyega Oyetola of Osun on Tuesday distributed 100,000 cocoa seedlings to farmers in the state to boost production.

Oyetola, while giving out the farm inputs to the farmers in Aisu, Ede, said the seedlings were provided free, as part of the Cocoa Revitalisation Programme aimed at revamping the state’s economy.

“The distribution of cocoa seedlings and other agricultural inputs are part of our determined quest at revamping the state’s economy through the Cocoa Revitalisation Programme.

“Today, we shall be distributing 100,000 cocoa seedlings to our cocoa farmers.

“Farmers in each local government in the state is expected to get a minimum of 1,500 seedlings.

“The support being given today is to empower our farmers and cushion the effects of the erratic weather condition that occurred in 2020,” he said.

The governor also released the sum of N200 million for relaunch of Osun Broilers Outgrowers Production Scheme (OBOPS) to enhance the capacity of poultry farmers in the state.

He said that his government had also bought five tractors to aid the operation of farmers in the state.

Earlier, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Adedayo Adewole, said the cocoa distribution programme was a landmark agriculture programme in the state.

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Adewole noted that the state government was serious about making Osun one of the largest cocoa producer in the country.

Also speaking, Alhaji Sulaimon Araokanmi, the Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Osun, appreciated the state government for the support given to the farmers.

Araokanmi urged that the seedlings and crops distribution should be extended to cover maize, cashew and cassava, among others. (NAN)

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Agriculture

Plateau Farmers Seek Governments’ Intervention Against Potato Blight Disease

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Plateau farmers battling with the potato blight disease yesterday called for State and Federal Governments’ interventions to arrest the situation.

Some of the farmers in Mangu, Bokkos and Pankshin Local Government Areas of the state made the call in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Pankshin.

According to them, the effect of the disease is “very worrisome” and “detrimental” to food security in the country.

Blight disease, which first surfaced in the state in 2014, left well over 100,000 hectares out of the 250,000 Irish potato farmlands in the areas destroyed.

It took the intervention of the state government, which provided N68 million as counterpart funding to that of the Federal Government toward potato production and curtailment of the disease at the time.

Chairman of Potatoes Value Chain Support Project, Mangu Local Government Area, Mr Rindugun Timothy, said that the effect of the disease in the area was overwhelming.

“We are overwhelmed by the effects of the blight disease on our Irish Potato farms, as most of the crops are just dying.

“The destructive effects of the blight disease on the crops are particularly high in the southern parts of Mangu, comprising Mangun, Ampang-West and Kerang Districts.

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“Mostly affected are crops that are either flowering or at ripening stages, in spite of the farmers’ efforts in applying and spraying fungicides to help arrest the situation.

“This year’s blight disease took us unaware because in the first place, we were not expecting it due to the late rainfall, which made us to start land cultivation and planting very late,” he noted.

According to him, unless the Federal and state governments quickly come to our rescue, we may experience sharp fall in food production, now that the farmers are still facing the shortage of fertiliser.

Timothy urged governments at both levels to conduct a research and come up with the best solution to the disease in the state.

Mr Christopher Shuaibu, Pankshin Local Government Area Chairman on Potatoes Value Chain Support Project, stated that the worst hit by the disease were farmers involved in commercial cultivation of the crop.

“Most of them have applied the fungicides (both liquid and powder) yet with little result, thereby sending a dangerous signal of total loss in their farming investments this year.

“We have used the liquid fungicides such as Fagurore and Blue Snow and the powdered Snow, SkyWork and Glory, yet there is no result.

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“Probably, only the buoyant farmers, who can spray the crops more than five times, may rescue some of the crops,” Shuaibu said.

a peasant farmer in Bokkos, Mr Damshahal Makwin, described the situation in Bokkos Local Government Area, as pathetic, requiring the government’s intervention to overcome the disease.

“All we want is a repeat of the serious attention the governments accorded the disease in 2014 to save the situation and prevent the farmers from incurring heavy losses,” Makwin said.

Responding, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Hosea Finangwai, said that the State Government was aware of the situation and was doing all it could to address this problem as quickly as possible. (NAN)

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Agriculture

Improved Yield: Stakeholders Urge Farmers to Plant Improved Seeds

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By Joseph Chibueze, Abuja

Stakeholders in the Nigerian seed system have called on farmers,
particularly smallholder farmers to embrace the use of improved and
hybrid seeds for planting if they must improve their yield.

It has
been discovered that most small scale farmers rely on their saved
seeds for planting because they consider the improved seeds very
expensive.
Speaking in separate interviews with DAILY ASSET, the stakeholders
said without quality seeds, no farmer can achieve improved yield and
that will ultimately affect the nation’s quest for food security.

National President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Arc
Kabir Ibrahim, while agreeing that on the face of it, the improved
seeds are very expensive for small scale farmers, he said that many of
them have a mindset that their seeds are better.
“Actually what they are planting is grains, not seeds that is why
their productivity is still very low,” he said. “We have been trying
to encourage them to buy improved seeds not to rely on their grains.
What many of them do not know is that they will gain more if only they
agree to invest a little more to buy improved seeds.
“It is a very serious problem. That is why an average peasant farmer
can hardly harvest up to two tonnes per hectare. It is a very sad
thing, but that is what is happening.”
Managing Director, AgriseedCo Limited, a seed manufacturing company,
Mr Kolade Dada said the quality of the seed determines the quality of
the yield.
According to him, “The seed determines 60 per cent of your yield
because you can’t do above your genetic make-up. It is just like a
local chicken, even if you give it the right meal, it won’t grow
beyond the size of a local chicken.
“We know the local farmers select the best of their crops as seeds,
but it is still a local seed and it can only do as well as a local
seed that is why the issue of hybrid seeds is very important.”
He said the hybrid seeds combine the right yield and disease
tolerance. “It may appear to a farmer that the hybrid seed are
expensive, but the marginal return is very high,” he said.
Mr Dada said while a normal seed in the market may cost N200 per kg, a
hybrid seed is N1000 per kg. “An average farmer will look at that and
say ‘why should I buy it?’ But when you plant the N200 per kg seed and
you get two tonnes per hectare, and you plant the one of N1000 per kg,
you get six tonnes per hectare, the marginal returns is considerably
higher,” he said.
He said another reason some farmers are resisting buying seeds from
the market is because the ones they bought did not deliver as
promised. In his words, “The assurance that the farmers are getting
the right seeds that will deliver the yield is also very questionable.
Most farmers end up buying dead seeds. Seeds are living things, if
they are not well kept, the farmer buys an expensive but dead seed.
“What we recommend to farmers is before you plant, do a germination
test. Just take about 100 seeds at random and plant it in a tray. If
out of the 100, 50 germinate, it shows you that the average
germination rate of your seed is 50 per cent that will also inform
your seed rate per hectare.
Mr Oketola, Folarin, Technical Adviser to the Director General of
National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) said the council is aware of
the gaps in awareness and access to improved seeds by many smallholder
farmers. In fact as it is now, he said the nation can only satisfy
about 30 per cent of the improved seeds need.
He said the council discourages recycling and the use of farmer’s
saved seeds. “We are doing everything within our power to ensure that
all players in the agricultural system have equal access to improved
certified seeds,” he said.
“First, we have made seed company registration a seamless process,
thereby encouraging many qualified players to invest in the sector.
Today, we have over 300 seed companies; foreign and local, fully
registered with adequate approval for seed production.”

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