Nigeria has the economic potential to generate 427.3 million dollars (N188bn) from domestic value-addition to cassava, and earn additional 2.98 billion dollars (N1.2 trn) in export of the commodity annually.
The Executive Director of Partnership Initiative for Niger Delta (PIND), Dara Akala, made this known in a statement on Friday in Abuja.
Akala, who spoke during the National Cassava Summit, which held in Abuja, said that processing would potentially unlock about 16 million dollars in taxes to the government per annum.
The summit was in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), it stated.
The PIND helmsman said a 2020 report estimates that Nigeria would need to plant about 28.3 million metric tonnes of fresh cassava roots on about 1.2 million hectares of land annually, to meet the country’s demand for its by-products and derivatives.
According to him, PIND has invested almost 800,000 dollars to increase cassava production, strengthened coordination and relationships of cassava value chain actors, and has promoted improved technologies for cassava production in the Niger Delta region.
He added: “Through this, we have effectively reached approximately 300,000 farmers with information and training, and facilitated the creation of almost 2,500 jobs and a network of 150 service providers.”
Akala, however, said the large-scale cassava processors required a reliable, healthy and timely supply of fresh cassava roots to feed their mills continually.
He said regrettably, Nigerian farmers were unable to deliver the quantity and quality of cassava roots required on time, resulting in low productivity, gross under-utilization of turnkey processing machines and subsequent loss of capital.
He said experts had reported that the combination of high yielding, virus free varieties, mechanized system and good agronomic practices, including six steps in weed management, could be the country’s game changer in root supply.
A Director at IITA, Dr. Alfred Dixon, said it was sad that Africa was spending about 35 billion annually on food import.
“The danger is if we do nothing about this, food import would rise to 110 billion dollars by 2025, and if this happens, our trade, and particularly exchange rates, will be in jeopardy.
“We will be exporting jobs and importing poverty, unemployment will rise and raise the tempo of youth restiveness to a higher degree.
“The impact will be precarious on the food and nutrition security of the continent, it is timelier to double our efforts to arrest the situation,” Dixon said. (NAN).