Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world, with annual production at over 50 million tons. This figure according to stakeholders is very low because currently our production per hectare is still below 10 tons, which is significantly low.
However, being the largest producer of cassava in the world, Nigeria does not have adequate factories and industries to process and convert these cassava to industrial raw materials, hence it is popularly consumed locally as fufu or gari.
Also, some factories who are into cassava processing have found it very difficult to access tubers for processing. Most of the farmers ate located in the rural areas where accessibility becomes a problem.
This unfortunate situation had starved some of this factories of raw materials which had in some occasions led to the folding of some factories while some run below their capacity.
Meanwhile, a cassava processing Harvest Feeds Agro Processing launched an e-cassava platform which enables cassava farmers to logon, register and sell their products online.
Harvest Feeds Agro Processing is a cassava starch processing factory which uses about 350 tons of cassava daily for starch production.
The Chairman, of the factory, Goke Adeyemi during the launching of the e-cassava platform, said the platform would enable them identify farmers in the rural areas.
He said the company which is located in Ajura, Ogun State processes about 70 tons of cassava per hour and is in need of cassava tubers to run on a full capacity.
“We just created e-cassava platform which is an internet based platform to sell your cassava, to encourage farmers to grow cassava and know where to sell it to, when you logon to the platform, you will see how you can navigate through it a d tell us about your cassava, the location, the name of the farmer, phone number, email address, by interacting with us, we can come and pick your cassava, we can even talk about the price, you can tell us when it is going to be available, and we can also arrange whether we are coming to pick it or you are bringing it down to us.
“The awareness is what we are creating to make sure that youths of these days who are internet compliant, can use the facility to be able to interact with us who are off-takers to know that you have cassava, and that we can buy from you.
“Our target is to mobilize sufficient cassava for my processing factory, we are into cassava starch production, and as at today, we consume close to 350 tons of cassava tubers daily, so if you rank up that into a year, you can be talking of several thousand tons of cassava per annum”.
The idea of the e-cassava platform is to mobilise farmers with 50km radius from the factory so that they can bring the cassava tubers to the factory or allow they factory to pick them up.
“So, to mobilize that and bring to the factory every day, we need to have a wider reach, so the e-cassava platform is available for everybody as long as you are in Nigeria and I don’t want to go beyond above 50km radius of my factory, we are located in Ajura, Ogun State, so any farmer around us can tell us about his cassava and we can come there to pick it and pay him even from the same platform”.
From interactions with Adeyemi, Nigerian Tribune learnt that Harvest Feeds Agro Processing is also supporting farmers to grow more cassava which they would off-take immediately.
Farmers are provided with tractors and other farm inputs, training and capacity building by Harvest Feeds Agro Processing which is expected to boost their yield per hectare.
“We do give assistance to the farmers basically around capacity building, and to some extent, we give inputs, the only thing is that we don’t give farmers cash, but we can support them with tractor which is not for free, we agree on the price per hectare, and we don’t take the money upfront, we use the tractor for them and once the cassava is ready, we will deduct the tractor cost of the cassava and give the farmer the balance.
“The second one is about stem, we now know that we need fresh cassava stem, improved variety, so through the arrangement with International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), we want to arrange some farmers to go for stem multiplication training which we will sponsor, and the few farmers that will attend the training, we will buy foundation stem for them, they will multiply it and then spread to all cassava farmers around.
“We also provide logistics from their farms to our factory, so in these areas, we are giving assistance to farmers, and we think with this, it can help to grow and bring about cassava revolution in Ogun State and Nigeria at large”, Adeyemi added.
Tunde Banjoko, a cassava farmer who spoke with Nigerian Tribune on the e-cassava platform, said the new approach would make farming attractive to youths.
He said with the support of Harvest Feeds Agro Processing, Central Bank of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers Program, the farmers can produce enough cassava for the factory.
“I think the e-cassava is a very good platform, it is one of the advancement in the industry that we are looking forward to that will make world easier, and I think it will also attract youths into the industry, it will make the industry trending.
“I think with this new approach, if Harvest Feed can also support, with the Anchor Borrowers Program, it’s possible for Harvest Feed to achieve it’s target.
“The pricing is okay, once you are able to get the yield from the farm, the price is fair enough, from my calculations, we can still get 25 per cent return on investment yearly”, he said.
An extension worker, Olaniyi Olajumoke also lauded the e-cassava platform, he said it would assist farmers in doing business directly from their homes.
While noting that Harvest Feed had made their work easier, he assured that the factory would mobilize enough farmers that would supply them with cassava through the new platform.
“This new technology will really help cassava farmers a lot, it is just a matter of sitting by one corner of your house and do business without stress, I call it business without sweat.
“Harvest feed has really made it easy for extension workers, because if you really want to succeed in farming activities, you have to involve the extension workers and that is exactly what they (Harvest Feed) have done.
“I want to assure them that they will get enough farmers that will be supplying them with cassava tubers”, he added.
On his partnership with government, Adeyemi said “is on a symbiotic relationship, now everybody knows that we need to improve agro-processing in Nigeria, add value to the raw material. So what we are doing with government is to partner with them to improve the value chain on cassava and that creates a lot of employment”.
Furthermore, on the challenges, Adeyemi said non availability of power is posing a serious trouble to the factory. He called on the government to intervene in the area of road construction to enable easy movement of raw materials.
“The two of our factories run on generator 100 per cent, every month we consume close 33,000 liters of diesel, that’s a lot of money to power the factory. So we need power source that is cheap, you can give us gas line, you can make power available there and even give us national grid which will be cheaper evidently than running on 100 per cent generator.
“We also need road development, we trucks that transports cassava from the farm to the factory, sometimes the truck will stay about 5 days on the road because the road is bad, so we need some improvement on the road.
“We are in the rain forest zone we also want government to help and do land clearing for farmers. Land clearing is a major aspect of cassava cultivation, so if you have land and it is cleared for farmers, they can now grow massively, which I think what we need to do is commercial farming, land clearing is important and government can help in that area.
“We also get links to off-takers of starch, there are many starch users in Nigeria, we also need to continue to expand on that, so that they can continue to take local cassava starch which is of global standard in terms of quality”, Adeyemi noted.
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