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Cassava starch processing factory

Starch is an important raw material that is widely used in the food, textile, paper and pharmaceutical industries. Interestingly, recent a research by the Food and Agricultural Organisation shows that almost all starch varieties can be replaced with cassava starch.

In its latest report on the Global Cassava Market Study, published in, the FAO declares that global demand for cassava starch will increase at an annual rate of 3.1 per cent, while regional growth rates are expected to rise by 4.2 per cent in Asia; 3.4 per cent in Latin America; and 2.3 per cent in Africa.

The report notes,” Local processing of native cassava starch is an attractive option because it offers a means of converting a relatively low cost raw material into a high value product, which can readily substitute for imported starch.

“The market opportunity for cassava starch exists in every country that is consuming more starch in various industrial processes.”

Currently, Nigeria is the world‘s largest producer of cassava, with production capacity estimated at over 49 million metric tonnes per annum. Experts say that the Federal Government’s makes cassava starch processing a worthwhile venture for any enrepreneur.

The National President, Cassava Produce Promoters and Exporters Association of Nigeria, Mr. Markus Magaji, says small and medium scale entrepreneurs are currently investing in various cassava starch processing projects across the country due to availability of raw materials, with prospects of high returns on investment.

He says, ”Today, cassava starch is in high demand in the country. A lot of people are building cassava processing plants across the country. Due to the high prospects, in terms of returns on investment, most of them are acquiring more machines to expand their existing facilities.”

National President, Nigerian Cassava Processors and Marketers Association, Mr. Ayo Olubori, also notes that the growing interest in cassava starch processing is as a result of the wide application of the product, which lends to its profit-generating potential.

According to him, investment opportunities in starch production go beyond the shores of Nigeria.

“ Investors and government agencies from West African countries are already wooing entrepreneurs in Nigeria to their countries. Nigeria is undoubtedly more advanced than many other African countries in cassava starch processing. The recent lifeline given to the textile industry will further boost cassava starch production in Nigeria,” Olubori says.

He says that the technology for processing cassava starch is affordable and can be sourced within the country, adding that functional cassava starch processing machines are currently being fabricated locally.

The main challenges, according to him include insufficient land for cassava cultivation in commercial quantity, limited funding sources and poor power supply, which may raise its cost of production.

He, however, stresses that the choice of equipment, factory location and supply of raw materials and scale of production are critical factors that must be considered before investing in the business.

Olubori says, “A large cassava starch plant requires about 250 tonnes of freshly harvested cassava per day, while a mini plant requires about 20 tonnes per day. Both scales have the potential of producing the same quality. The yield is, however, a function of the age of cassava, variety of cassava, season of production (dry or wet season) and, of course, the efficiency of the equipment. Such a plant is usually fully automated, sometimes with computer controlled devices. Hence, total quality requirement is easier to manage.”

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