Harnessing the Potential in Cassava

The special technical adviser to the minister of agriculture and rural development, and Team Leader, Cassava Transformation, Dr Martin Fregene, minced no words when he said, “cassava in Nigeria will become like oil and gas,” recalling that the minister, Dr Adesina Akinwumi, had promised that Nigerians would see cassava as an industrial crop as it would become substitute for imported wheat.

While this optimism is shared by those in government, very few Nigerians see the possibility of cassava becoming like oil as in the words of Emeka Obiorah, a businessman, “There is no doubt that cassava is very important in Nigeria, especially to the Igbo man, because personally, there is no day that I do not eat ‘eba’. But how much cassava will be produced or how many countries value cassava enough, whether processed or not, to make it as profitable as oil?”

But Fregene says this is possible because government is looking at a 500 dollars a hectare profit due to the level of technology and varieties of cassava launched at the GES Roll Out at Agbadu Staple Crop Processing Zone (SCPZ) recently in Kogi State. He said: “we want to make cassava production so efficient that the industrial users will be attracted to invest in this part of the world.”

He added that part of government’s effort towards developing large scale cassava production was to develop roads, energy and water as well as a supply chain that would be readily available to end users, recalling that when the minister promised to transform the cassava sector and make Nigeria the biggest producer and processor of cassava, he took a step by increasing the efficiency of production, bringing the best possible methods, such as mechanised land production, soil erosion control, mechanised planting and harvesting.

When the federal government launched the cassava bread in 2012, it was one of the most talked about initiatives of the Akinwumi-led government. But since then it seems the project had become one of the white elephant projects of government. But the government reenergised efforts at cassava development when it recently announced that it had agreed to consider an initial request of about N10 billion cassava fund to further explore potentials of the cassava industry in Nigeria.

Adesina was optimistic that cassava was a big deal in Nigeria because the country is the largest producer of cassava with a production capacity of 40 metric tonnes (mt) which contributes close to zero per cent in terms of global value, faces a significant demand for processed cassava with a large capacity for building new processing capacity as well as capturing a share in the growing market.

Source:AgroNigeria

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Wow but the project in kogi ought to be sited in south south, south east and west cos these regions are popular in cassava planting