The National President of the Nigerian Cassava Growers Association (NCGA), Segun Adewumi has said if the government can devote five million hectares of land out of the 84 million hectares of arable land for cassava production, it could generate over N15 trillion for the country.
Adewumi, who disclosed this while speaking with Nigerian Tribune, also said industrial revolution could be triggered if the potentials of cassava products were utilised.
According to him “cassava has the key to the diversification we are talking about, we in the Cassava Growers Association believe that cassava can give more money than oil we have relied upon for years.
“The 84 million hectares of arable land that Nigeria have, if we devote just 5 million hectares to cassava, we will be able to achieve 200 million metric tons, it will translate to over N15 trillion to us in the industrial products of cassava.
“The major products of cassava like ethanol, starch, flour, glucose, syrup are raw materials to numerous utility with limitless market potentials. So cassava can trigger industrial revolution in Nigeria that every village will have a viable cassava industry.”
Speaking on cassava flour, the NCGA President said “the issue of cassava flour inclusion in bread baking started during Obasanjo regime, it was a believe that we can have 40 per cent of our bread with cassava inside, it was a very good programme but the implementation had problems.
“Akinwumi Adesina started very well, he initiated the programme that 15 per cent of the value of imported wheat is earmarked for cassava bread development, by my calculations, since it was understood that as at that time, the import bill of wheat was about N650 billion in a year, so 15 per cent was about N100 billion and we had it for almost five years.
“Now, we should have about N500 billion out of which N10 billion was released to the ministry of Agriculture to prosecute cassava bread programme, these are areas where we have to look at.”
Speaking further, Adewumi said “from the N10 billion cassava flour initiative, we have accessed N2.4 billion and was used to establish 29,000 hectares.
“The time the first set of cassava matured, the processors could not use the cassava because somehow, they had problem accessing their own money, so the cassava wasted. Many cassava was eaten up by cattle.
“So, the programme had that issue, it was not the fault of the ministry, it was the fault of maybe the financial institution that was disbursing the money, in our own case, the Bank of Agriculture disbursed to us very well, and cellulant sent the money to our accounts, everything went well as far as cassava farmers was concerned, but it wasn’t so with processors a d that affected us,” he concluded.
On why Nigeria is not utilizing the potentials of cassava, he said “Nigerians are cassava eaters while Thailand and other cassava producing countries are not eaters of cassava, they use it for industrial production, apart from that, there have to be two programmes, Cassava for food security is different from cassava for industrial use.
“For food security, we don’t need too much starch, it is done by smallholder farmers who produce between 8 to 10 metric tons per hectare, unlike the Thailand that have 22 and upwards, even right now, Malaysia is using micronutrients to get 100 tons from an hectare and they are getting 40 per cent starch content inside their cassava, India is having 38 per cent we are just able to get 18 to 20 per cent.
“So we have to actually improve to be able to meet up the challenges of this industrial cassava, the cassava for industrial use have to be deliberately planted not the peasant farmers or smallholder purpose cassava.
“We in the cassava Growers have moved ahead, we have started acquiring land, we have acquired 10,000 hectares in some states, the intention is to clear this land, that’s where we have challenges and we are appealing to government.
“If the land is cleared, it will be demarcated into blocs and allocated to youth farmers who will plant under the supervision of world experts so they can bring required specie and variety of cassava with adequate starch to meet that challenge of the industry”.