The Director for Development and Delivery of International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr Alfred Dixon said because of inadequate Technologies to improve cassava production, Nigeria has been unable to tap into the full potential of cassava crop which is estimated at $5 billion annually.
Dr Alfred Dixon disclosed this at Cassava Investment Forum organised by the Cassava Compact of Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), in collaboration with the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB).
Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) is a program initiated by the African Development Bank (AfDB) as part of its Feed Africa Initiative.
The main objective of the program is to improve the business of agriculture across Africa by raising agricultural productivity, mitigating risks and promoting diversification and processing in 18 agricultural value chains within eight Priority Intervention Areas (PIA).
According to him, “today, that Nigeria’s cassava annual production is above 50 million tons up from 35 million tons in the early 90’s is not by accident. It was as a result of efforts from most of you seated in this room in research and development to all other aspects of the cassava value chain such as processing, mechanization and markets.
“Despite this achievement of having more than 50 million tons annual production, there are still challenges that are still confronting the Cassava crop. Our yield per hectare is still low (less than 10 tons per hectare), we are still battling with the problem of cyclical glut, there are still processing challenges, weeds are still problems in cassava, and several others. Consequently, Nigeria is yet to tap the full potential of cassava crop which is estimated at $5 billion annually”, Dr Dixon said.
Furthermore, it was learnt that Nigeria requires a total of 400 million liters of ethanol annually, but local production is still below 15 million liters annually, hence the remaining 380 million liters is imported to satisfy local demand.
According to one of the participants of the Cassava Investment Forum, Ashish Deshpande, who is one of the managers at Allied-Atlantic Distilleries Limited (AADL) which is the largest ethical producers in Nigeria, a liter of ethanol in the market is sold for N300 in the market. It means that Nigeria is spending N115 billion annually to import 385 million liters of ethanol.
Deshpande explained “we have a big market for ethanol in Country, but however the challenge is that we need to start the production on local basis, we need to have more and more producers of ethanol locally, the gap between the local production and the importation is very high, that gap need to be bridged.
On starch production, another participant, Chairman, Harvest Feeds Agro Processing, Goke Adeyemi, Nigeria requires about 600,000 tons of starch annually, while our annual production is about 100,000 tons, leaving a deficit of 500,000 which is imported.
Adeyemi further explained that a ton of starch is sold for N200,000 in the market, which means that Nigeria is spending about N100 billion annually importing 500,000 tons of starch.
Speaking further in starch importation, Adeyemi said “It is an issue that is very topical and it came up in the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) Focus Lab that President Muhammadu Buhari initiated in 2018.
“Even though Nigeria is the largest producer in cassava, but so far’ starch production is still at infancy in Nigeria, the issues are such that right now the imported starch in Nigeria is attracted very low import duty, it’s about 5 to 10 per cent, as a result, they sell imported starch in Nigeria at about N140,000 to N150,000 per ton, however, the starch producers in Nigeria cannot sell at that price because our processing cost is quite high, and the yield of cassava is still very low.