The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Business Group Nigeria (NBGN) has called for good policies and investments in cassava production, saying it remain a major catalyse for Nigeria’s export when the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) takes off next January.
The group stated this in a communique signed by its Chairman, Nike Akanke, after a Webinar organised by the NBGN.
The event entitled: Enhancing the cassava value chain as Nigeria seeks alternative to oil revenue, which featured five papers, brought together finance experts, farmers, government agencies.
They include the Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Psaltry International Limited; Bank of Industry Limited (BOI); and Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO).
Akanke said cassava, apart from being consumed locally, serves as important raw material to processing firms with various derivatives.
Nigeria still remains the largest producer of cassava with 59 million tonnes (20.4 per cent world’s share) per annum, she added.
She noted that the ACFTA, which takes off in 2021, provides opportunities for the country to increase cassava production for export into other African countries.
“The cassava value chain in Nigeria is largely weak, highly fragmented and dominated by very small scale payers.
Nigeria is yet to fully embrace industrial utilisation of cassava as obtainable in countries that produce far less than Nigeria, such as Thailand, Brazil and Columbia.
“Adequate industrialisation of the cassava is the only way the country can fully benefit from the commodity as the largest producer in the world.
Necessary value addition to the crop will not only bring about the desired jobs and wealth but foreign earning that will compliment dwindling revenue from oil”, she said.
She said effective Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is essential for desired industrial utilisation of cassava.
She said cassava is a major crop that can provide jobs for the youth and unemployed.
Cassava remains an important avenue to source for the needed revenue in the face of drop in oil revenue due to the new reality in the world, she added.
“There are a lot of products that have been developed and patented by Research Institutes, such as FIIRO, that are waiting for partnership and collaboration with private sector for commercialisation.
Outgrowers Programme is the most efficient scheme that can ensure adequate and quality of quality raw material to processing companies,” she said.
She said there was the need to improve on the agricultural rural extension services for adequate and effective dissemination of information to the rural and small holders’ farmers that account for over 90 per cent of the production. Information on right methods/technologies/practices; available loans and support; available markets; etc.
– The Nation.