In order to reduce the number of cassava derivatives imported into the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association and Large Scale Cassava Processors.
The MoU was signed in a meeting held with the governors of cassava-producing states and the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele. The CBN governor announced that Nigeria imports cassava derivatives valued at about 600 million dollars annually.
According to Emefiele as reported by Punch, the MoU was signed to guarantee steady off-take and processing of cassava in Nigeria going forward. He made known that the move would maximize local benefits of all the derivatives in cassava and save scarce foreign exchange.
The CBN Governor pointed out that the country is blessed with several varieties of cassava that could be explored to optimum potential.
Emefiele’s words: “In achieving this goal, we are holding consultations with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan and the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike. Apart from foreign exchange conservation, increasing cassava production is a necessity as starch, glucose, sorbitol and other products currently being imported.
“Statistics show that out of the 53.0 million metric tonnes of cassava produced in Nigeria annually, more than 90 per cent is processed into food for human consumption. Whereas a significant industrial demand exists for the output of processed cassava, primarily as substitutes for imported raw materials and semi-finished products.
“Potential demand that exists in our cassava value chain, demand High-Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) in bread, biscuits and snacks is above 500,000 tonnes annually while supply is below 15,000 tonnes. Demand for cassava starch is above 300,000 tonnes annually while supply is below 10,000 tonnes,” he explained.
Issues in the industry: Emefiele noted that the cassava industry suffers as a result of low yield varieties, poor farm practices, lack of good quality farm inputs, non-utilization of available cultivable lands, manual system of production, inadequate funding for smallholder out-grower schemes and low processing capacity.
What you should know: Though Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava tubers with 53 million metric tonnes per annum, the country imports cassava derivatives worth over $600 million each year. This is according to Emefiele.