At forum, Cassava farmers urged
The president of the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA), Pastor Segun Adewumi, has urged Cassava farmers in Nigeria to maximize the opportunities being provided by the harrowing economic depression occasioned by the continuous decline in the price of oil.
According to him, the nation is in desperate need to get out of this situation, and as orchestrated by world experts at different fora, the only solution is to diversify the nation’s economy into Agriculture.
He stated that for the above reason, Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA), should rejoices at the birth of Nigeria Agricultural Business Group (NABG) that has provided the platform to bridge the gap of understanding between the real farmers and the government on Agricultural policies and their implementation.
Adewumi explained that the little interaction the Association has had with the leadership of NABG has convinced beyond any doubts that the time for Nigeria’s prosperity in Agricultural value chain has arrived.
He noted that various bye-products like Ethanol used in the production industrial solvent (wood finishers), beverages (whisky, brandy, dry gin, wine, beer), biofuel (hybrid petrol, smokeless fuel, cooking fuel), cleaning (industrial cleaning of stainless equipment and tools where fast drying is needed without removing the paints on the machines) can be extracted from Cassava.
“In pharmaceuticals, many drugs such as cough syrups, methylated spirit, and gentian violet; in cosmetics production, you have rubbing alcohol, nail paints, conditioners, styling gels, and aftershave lotions, while most industrial paints and wood coatings as well as printing inks contain alcohol,” he added.
He continues: “Similarly, industrial starch another major product from Cassava is used as gum/adhesives, and the demand for this product is very high in Nigeria. Also, Cassava Flour is now in demand in several African countries and sweetener for which Cagil, Coca Cola and other beverage companies are anxious to invest. It might interest you to know that Nigeria imports 97 per cent of Ethanol, and 95 per cent of industrial starch used in the country.”
Adewumi added that the world has moved forward and left Nigeria behind in the method of cultivation and the result in terms of yield and their starch content. He added that beyond the experiment of micronutrients demonstrated at the World Starch Conference held in Thailand recently, which made Cassava yield 100MT per hectare, a Cassava expert in Thailand is convinced that he can take the yield of Cassava to 200MT per hectare with 40 per cent starch content.
“Even if only 50 per cent of the above is achieved on the field, Cassava will become the best crop in the world for Industrial Starch and Ethanol. That presupposes the yield from 100 hectares Cassava farm in Malaysia or Thailand will surpass that of 500 Hectares in Nigeria. How then can our products compete in the international market?” he asked.
While calling for more research in the area of preservation and elongation of the shelf life of the various local food items derived from cassava so that they will be durable for both local and international market, he stated that there has to be two cassava programmes, one for industrial use and the second for food security.
On High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) Program, the NCGA president said that the program was expected to be financed from the extra 15 per cent increase in the import duty of white wheat flour, and it is expected that substantial amount in billions of naira must have accrued into the fund, which part of it could be used to establish a 500,000 ha cassava farm that will produce at least 40MT of Cassava per hectare, which will translate to 20 million MT of Cassava and five million MT of HQCF.
He further explained that from the same fund, the existing HQCF factories could also be upgraded to process 20 million MT of Cassava, saying that Nigeria requires 3,200 MT of HQCF daily or 1,168,000 MT yearly to achieve 20 per cent HQCF inclusion in Cassava bread, adding that it can as well increase the inclusion to 40 percent which is just 2,336,000 MT of HQCF and have excess of 2,664,000 MT which the farmers can export to other countries.
“What this means is that if the plan of those that initiated the programme had worked, we would have been able to achieve 40 per cent inclusion of Cassava flour in bread and exported the excess 60 per cent to the neighbouring African countries. But unfortunately, we have not met even one percent inclusion as at today.”
Analysing the income be generated from Cassava export, Adewumi said 15 per cent of N650billion for four years is about N390 billion, stressing that all Nigeria need to achieve is 40 per cent High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) inclusion, and 60 percent HQCF export, as stated in the HQCF analysis is less than N200 billion of the N390 billion believed to have been generated from the fund.
“If the cassava development program is driven by Agency, Board or Commission with majority of its membership drawn from captains of industries, financial experts and reputable Nigerians from the private sector, the result would definitely have been different.”