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Imported starch hurting local cassava processors in Nigeria  

A Nigerian investor and Chairman, Harvest Feeds Agro Processing, Goke Adeyemi, has said that the continued importation of corn starch into Nigeria, has been damaging the investments of locall processors.
Adeyemi said in the last one year, he had invested over N1.2 billion into cassava starch processing, while his business is being threatened by importation of corn starch.
Adeyemi said the Nigerian government needed to double its efforts to stop what he described as saboteurs who were behind the importation from crippling local production.
He said despite holding meetings with the country’s apex bank, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on how to encourage local production of starch, it surprised that industries in the country were still importing starch massively.
“It came to us as a surprise that few sabotage trying to thwart the laudable efforts of the Federal Government of Nigeria and especially the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in putting energy behind economic diversification, using cassava and cassava products as one of the veritable avenue to diversify the Nigeria’s economy.
“For the past 3 years, following the Economy Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP)  of the Federal Government, the CBN has put a lot of energy using their platforms of development finance and Anchor Borrowers Program and the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for (NIRSAL) Agricultural Lending to bring about what is called cassava revolution.
“We have held meetings with CBN for about 6 times in 2019 on expanding the footprint of cassava derivatives production in nigeria like cassava starch or cassava flour for example and other products from cassava.
“But it came to us as a surprise that many of the industries are still importing starch in Nigeria, how they get it, we don’t know, but as I speak to you now, many of the industries that are supposed to patronize us, even though the price difference between Nigerian cassava starch and the imported corn starch iss not much”, he said.
He said despite that the local starch is of high quality compared to the imported ones, the price disparity is not much, yet the industries in Nigeria prefer to go for the imported starch ahead of the locally processed ones.
“For example, we sell cassava starch as low as N185,000 per ton and the imported one cost is being sold at 180,000 per ton, based on quality, the Nigerian cassava starch has more quality than the imported corn starch.
“We are surprised that is still happening and we are appealing to the government to help us put a skrew around those sabotaging the efforts of the government because some people are behind the importation and it comes in through the ports especially now that the land border has been closed.
“We are aware that so many of those companies still use imported starch for example most of the paper companies who are huge users of starch, they are patronizing more of the corn starch than our starch”, Adeyemi noted.
While calling for a total ban on starch importation, the Processor said he had just completed the expansion in his factory which now allows it to produce 70 tons of cassava starch daily against the initial 25 tons per day production.
“For the past one year, my company invested over N1.2 billion to expand our capacity from 25 tons per day to 70 tons per day of high quality cassava starch.
“We have just completed that expansion, the government told us to invest,  and we are investing and we are seeing that the imported products is doing some damage in our investment.
“We want the government to help us out to completely knockout importation of starch into Nigeria, what we heard was that there will be restriction, but I think that complete knockout now that is necessary so that our investment can see the light of the day”, he added.

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