Cassava exports dry up in 2010

Cassava exports declined sharply in volume and value in the first four months of this year, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

In the first four months, 901,000 tonnes of cassava or cassava-based products were exported, worth US$240 million – down 52.4 per cent in volume and 12.8 per cent in value compared with the same period of last year.

The decline was exaggerated by the exceptionally high export volume last year, said experts from the Agro-Forestry, Seafood Processing and Salt Industry Department.

Mainland China is the biggest importer of Vietnamese cassava – followed by South Korea and Taiwan – accounting for 90 per cent of the industry's export value.

After Thailand, Viet Nam is the second biggest exporter of cassava in the world.

In the first quarter, cassava exports totalled 680,844 tonnes, worth $177.3 million – down 50 per cent in volume and 7 per cent in value against the same period last year.

The domestic market is expected to consume 1 million tonnes of dried cassava for animal feed and ethanol production in 2011. That would leave at least 4 million tonnes for export.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Viet Nam has about 508,000ha of cassava under cultivation at present.

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Cassava Farmers Bicker Over Missing Funds

Osun State chapter of Cassava Grower Farmers Association is rolling in cesspool of corruption a investigation has revealed that the leadership of the group appeared to have allegedly used the financial opportunities accrued to the chapter to service some chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who facilitated his emergence as the chairman of the group in the state.

Findings have further revealed that several millions of naira accrued to the group for certain experimentation of the cassava plantation appeared to have lost in transit, for hundreds of group members who were entitled to the funds could not access it in the last three years.

Checks have further shown that a former minister under the defunct draconian the late General Sani Abacha junta, who hails from Ijesaland and another PDP chieftain in the state were the ones who had gotten more than enough of the the funds made available to the chapter by some international and national organizations and governments not because they are farmers, but because they were the facilitators of the chairman, Mr. David Omisade.

It was learnt that Omisade had met with his members sometimes in the past when a lump sum running to N200 million was allocated to his chapter for provision of cassava stems and land cultivation was available to his chapter, where he reportedly informed them about the development.

In order to service his facilitators, according to a source, the embattled farmer hinted his group of his readiness to share the money amongst the registered members so that they could go and find cassava stems of their choice, contrary to the demand, of the international organization that provided the money.

Information at the disposal of OSUN DEFENDER has shown that the organization that provided the funds wanted the farmers to plant special cassava stems that could germinate and grow within a shortest period, contrary to the old species that could take more than a year before it is ready for harvest.

However, another phase of corruption was the way and manner the leadership of the association would be demanding for processing fees from thousands of members across the state with a promise that they would be assisted financially later, only for them to still be living in forlorn hope despite the fact that the expected funds have been collected and developed wings.

According to findings conducted by OSUN DEFENDER, the two benefactors of the chairman have become parasites on the funds accrued to the association, a situation that has made them to feed fat on it on several occasions, only for Omisade to start hoodwinking the unsuspected members who might be demanding the whereabouts of the funds.

Last year, when OSUN DEFENDER contacted the septuagenarian farmer who was said to have attended numerous international seminars on the bill of the association about some improprieties in the association, Omisade took time to explain about the situation surrounding certain funds concerning provision of cassava stems and the cheque made available to his chapter, but could not give details of the expenditure.

When our reporter was raising so many questions, the farmer then began to threaten that he would cancel the gentleman agreement he had with his members, boasting that he would go ahead and buy cassava stems for them.

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Three firms sign deal on cassava purchases

THE Southern Food Corporation, Cambodian Investment and Development, and the Green Trade Company announced Thursday that they planned to jointly invest $US30 million to buy cassava in Cambodia.

Thun Vireak, director general of Green Trade Company, one of the shareholders in the plan, told the Post on Thursday that the three companies would buy about 100,000 tonnes, more than 3 percent of the Cambodia’s annual cassava production, to export to Vietnam.

“We hope that under this cooperation, the three companies will be able to buy enough cassava as is planned,” Thun Vireak said.

According Thun Vireak’s report, the companies will start buying cassava in the up-coming December season in the Battambang and Kampong Cham provinces, the country’s two leading cassava producing areas.

Thun Vireak did not on mention on Thursday the price that the companies would set to buy the product from farmers.

The three companies have a history of working with one another. Representatives signed an agreement together on October 5, 2009, to buy rice and other products in Cambodia for export using total capital of $200 million.

Kit Seng, under secretary of state of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said Thursday that he had not yet been informed about the cassava plan by the three companies.

But he said that he supported the scheme, because it helped increase markets for Cambodian farmers.

“We have plenty of cassava to support their plan because our farmers have grown a considerably large amount of cassava in Cambodia,” Kit Seng said.

According a report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, in the farming year 2009 to 2010, Cambodia harvested a total amount of 3,497,306 tonnes of cassava.

Of this amount, 3,476,684 tonnes were harvested in the rainy season. The other 24,622 tonnes were harvested in the dry season.

Thun Vireak said that the companies planned to buy not only cassava but also other agricultural products such as paddy and rice.

“We will buy about 200,000 tonnes of [rice products] in Cambodia to export this year and over the next few years,” Kit Seng said.

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Cassava has caused it to lose over N19.5 billion every year

The Federal Government’s non-implementation of policy on cassava has caused it to lose over N19.5 billion every year. In the year the policy was implemented it reduced the importation of wheat by 300,000 metric tons, thereby saving scarce foreign exchange.

These are the assertions of Ayo Olubori, president, Nigerian Cassava Processors and Marketers Associations (NICAPMA).

During Obasanjo’s administration, the government introduced a policy that mandated flour millers to combine 10 percent locally produced cassava flour with 90 percent flour produced from imported wheat. When the policy was first implemented, wheat importation reduced by 300,000 metric tons, amounting to N19.5 billion in the first year.

According to Olubori, even at full implementation of the policy, wheat importation would further reduce creating demand for 1.2 million metric tons of cassava per annum. He said that meant that across 300 working days, about 4,000 metric tons of cassava would be demanded per day. With a metric ton of cassava going for N18, 000, it meant that cassava farmers supplying processors that will in turn supply flour millers would be selling N72 million worth of cassava per day.

According to him, “Prior to the presidential initiative on cassava, we had less than five cassava processing small and medium enterprises in the whole country, but that policy gave birth to 120 cassava processing SMEs within one and half years of its implementation. It was a laudable programme aimed at generating about six million jobs in the country.”

On her part, Eno Akpabio, president of women in agribusiness under the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA), noted that almost all those firms that were established had collapsed and their promoters now in debt and bankrupt.

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10 million metric tons of cassava production by 2014

BUTUAN CITY (PNA) – The government is targeting at least 10 million metric tons of cassava production by year 2014 due to its huge potential market, officials said over the weekend.

Brielgo O. Pagaran, Region 13 office of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI 13) director, said more farmers in the Caraga Region were planting cassava, a promising agribusiness venture in Northeastern Mindanao.

For its part, the Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Unit 13 also viewed the rising cassava production.

Dr. Candido Damo, cassava project official under GMA Corn Program, said that based on the five-year projected demand established during the recently held National Cassava Stakeholders Meeting, the demand for cassava this year was pegged at five million metric tons and expected to increase to 10 metric tons by 2014.

“As of 2009 production, we are only supplying about 46 percent of the current demand, so there’s still huge market potential,” said Damo.

He said cassava production in the country had not met yet the demand of the market thus opportunity still awaits the farmers.

Due to the gap between cassava production and the demand, some of the processors import supplies from other countries such as Thailand to fill in their requirements, he said.

However, the official expressed optimism that Filipino farmers could meet the local demand of the industry due to positive status of cassava production in the country that continually surge in terms of volume production brought by increased area planted and yield per unit area.

“Today, we have already 2,004 metric tons cassava production and registered higher yield level from eight to 9.7 metric tons per hectare now,” added Damo.

About 80 percent of cassava production, excluding human consumption, goes to feed formulation by feed millers as ingredients for animals and aqua feeds, he explained.

With this development, to boost production in the country, the DA through the GMA Corn Program wherein cassava is a sub-project, focuses on the commodity through the three major interventions.

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