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Making money from Cassava

Farmers and private investors play an important role in redefining the profile of crop production. They have found cropping activities as economically viable areas of investment because of the huge income and other benefits they assess from it. There are several agricultural production intervention programmes, most of which are in the crop production sub sector, established by the federal government in conjunction with the states and the world food bodies.

They include programmes such as the toot tuber expansion programme and the National special programme on food security. Since the return to democratic governance in 1999, the nation has witnessed a positive cassava revolution which is aimed at achieving self sufficiency in food production and for export to increase the foreign exchange earnings from the agricultural sector in relation to the oil sector.

The price of cassava in the raw and processed stages has appreciated and there has also been added value to cassava products as investment for private and local farmers engaged in the cassava business. The demand for cassava has recently increased the awareness of its domestic and industrial uses.

Apart from cassava being important in the international market, it ranks first of the top 10 Nigerian crops. Nigeria could very well be the largest producer of cassava worldwide. Government’s intervention in support of production, processing and marketing of cassava dated back to the 1970s, through National Accelerated Food Production Programme, Operation Feed the Nation, Agricultural Development Projects, the National Agricultural Land Development Authority, National Agricultural Research Systems all contributed to growth of cassava production.

Production and processing

The production areas in Nigeria include the South west, South east and some Northern parts of the country. Fresh cassava tubers cannot be stored for long because they rot within three to four days after harvest and because they are also bulky.

The transportation of tubers from interior farmlands to urban centres where they are processed or marketed has contributed to the cost of the crop in recent time.

Cassava can be processed into many bye products, such as garri, fufu, chips and starch. It can also be used in the industrial sector in the making of baby foods, biscuits, bread, starch, furniture, textiles, paper and in pharmaceuticals.

Last year, the House of Representatives made it mandatory for all flour millers to include cassava in the production of flour for bread baked in the country. At present, there exists a large local market for cassava and its by-products to reduce the rot of the fresh. Processing is done by mechanical to reduce drudgery.

There are lots of entrepreneurial opportunities in cassava because cassava can be processed in to different by-products.

Garri, a by-product, is one of the staple foods in Nigeria, and quite a sizeable quantity is now being exported to Europe and the United States of America, to meet the growing demand of Nigerians living in those parts of the world.

In addition to Garri, cassava starch and chips offer trade opportunities in foreign countries. South Africa, which is well known for the production of large quantities of corn starch, now imports very large quantities of cassava starch to make up for the demand of 90,000 tonnes of corn starch per annum.

Cassava starch and chips can also be easily marketed in ECOWAS states. Many entrepreneurs are currently into the business of exporting cassava starch.

Processing it into products like chips, flour and starch can increase Nigeria’s revenue significantly.

Modern processing technology has also added value to cassava starch and all other cassava by-products, thereby improving their competitiveness with similar products from sources like soya beans and cocoa.

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