Awolowo laments plight of cassava farmers even as annual production hits 59 metric tons

With over 59 million metric tons of cassava annually, Nigeria is presently ranked as the largest producer of cassava in the country, the Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Dr Olusegun Awolowo has disclosed.

Dr Awolowo, the CEO of NEPC who spoke at a one day workshop on the implementation of the One-State One-Product (OSOP) Value Chain in strategic products of the zero oil plan cassava said that Nigeria is ranked as the highest producer of cassava, producing about 20% of the total world production.

Represented by the Trade Promotion Advisor, NEPC, Export Assistance Office, Benin, Mr MacPherson Lleogben said Edo State has shown cassava and wood as its main and alternate products.

He said that out of the total estimated world production of cassava of 291 million metric tons, Nigeria produced over 59 million metric tons in 2017.

“Despite being the world largest producer of cassava, the industry is facing some challenges in Nigeria, such as; climate change, low yields, quality issues, low processing, sharp practices, infrastructural deficiency and poor access to finance which has constraint export. It is vital to engage the value chain players from time to time to address these plights so that we can grow the export of the product in Nigeria.”

“In 2015, NEPC developed a game-changer document tagged the Zero-Oil Plan. The initiative was developed as a strategy for boosting foreign exchange earnings through the non-oil sector. Preparing Nigeria for an economy that would not depend on a single drop of crude oil for survival.”

“The Zero Oil Plan has set a long-term goal of earning 20 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP (i.e US$100 billion) from non-oil exports. The initial target is to exceed US$30 billion in non-oil exports over the next 10 years. If properly implemented the plan will lead to three primary results.”

“Add an extra US$150 million (minimum) to Nigeria’s foreign reserves cumulatively from non-oil exports over the next 10 years. Create at least 500,000 additional jobs annually.”

The Permanent Secretary Edo State Ministry of Wealth Creation Cooperative and Employment, Mr Joel Edionwe advised the farmers at the occasion to look for the modern ways of how to process their Cassava products.

Edionwe added that Edo State produces the largest cassava in Nigeria and appealed to the farmers to develop a new format to produce large quantities and therefore declared the event opened.

The Trade Promotion Advisor, NEPC, Benin Export Assistance Office, MacPherson Fred Lleogben, said that the event was aimed at building the capacity of farmers and strengthening the performance of the non-oil export of Edo State.

He said: “With cassava being the primary product identified in Edo state under the One State One Product idea of the council.”

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