Cassava is a wonder crop from which about 2,500 industrial products can be derived.
One can create a lot of value-added commodities capable of building fabulous wealth for investors as well as raw materials for processors and numerous jobs for the unemployed.
Cassava is shrub with an edible root cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. It is rich in carbohydrates, calcium, vitamins B and C and minerals. Starch is an essential component of cassava products such as food, confectionery, sweeteners, glues, plywood, textiles, paper, biodegradable products, monosodium glutamate, and drugs. Cassava chips and pellets are used in animal feeds and alcohol production.
There is availability of cassava as Nigeria is the world’s largest producer with an annual output of 45 million metric tons. In 2004, she was producing 40 million tons up from 36 million tons.
Cassava grows in all parts of Nigeria. But it is found in abundance mainly in the southern part of the country. States like Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Edo, Lagos, Kogi, Plateau, Enugu, Ebonyi and Anambra are foremost producers.
Cassava is one agricultural produce that has the potential to generate a lot of money from processing and packaging for internal consumption and for export. It can be processed into varieties of food such as fufu, garri, cassava powder, and so on, and prepared in a variety of ways to assuage hunger. It can also be processed to add value to raw materials for industrial purposes.
An agro-processor could take advantage of the cheap and often wasted cassava due to spoilage in the farms and reap huge profits by adding value to the raw materials.
For instance, skilled entrepreneurs who appreciate hygienic production of food, attractive packaging and reputable food brand names that deliver on promises can leverage on the opportunities that abound in processing and adding value to create more wealth. One can process cassava into garri, flour, glucose, biscuits and so on.
Cassava leaves, which are usually thrown away during harvest, can be processed into livestock feed such as silage, cassava leaf meal and pellets. The cassava leaf is a good source of protein for ruminants. In Nigeria, there are about 3.5 million hectares of cassava across the country. Cassava leaves can be translated to money for those who want to venture into its exploitation.
Cassava has the highest yield of carbohydrate or starch compared to other crops such as rice, wheat, maize, yam and sorghum.
The global demand for starch is very high and still rising. Cassava is the best and cheapest crop that yields starch. For those who want to produce starch, the return on investment is very high.
Instead of sugar, starch-based sweeteners such as glucose could be used in the production of soft drinks. Such sweeteners are safer because the body can absorb all of them.
Fuel and ethanol could be produced from cassava thus providing a substitute for petrol. For Nigeria, fuel from cassava is even better than fuel from hydrocarbons because it is free from all the problems associated with oil exploitation such as gas flaring, environmental degradation and militancy.
Brazil has been running her motor engines on ethanol produced from cassava for the past 50 years, and the same can be replicated in Nigeria with a handsome reward on investment for anyone who pioneers the venture here in the country.
Cassava chips and pellets export is a billion-dollar business. Pellets are used in animal feed and alcohol production. They are foreign exchange earners through export of starch and other products.
The Federal Government and stakeholders have been encouraging export of Nigerian products to enhance the nation’s foreign exchange revenue and discourage over-reliance on petroleum products export as the main source of foreign exchange.
Cassava can be processed into a health product to treat HIV/AIDS, kwashiokor and other ailments.
Cassava can be used to substitute for imported wheat flour, sugar, monosodium glutamate and other items in bread production.
In 2014, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, pursued the policy of 20 per cent inclusion of cassava in bread production. With the adoption of 20 per cent HQCF in wheat for bread and confectioneries production, Nigeria was saving about N127 billion annually and could save up to N200 billion.
It has to be emphasised that training is very important in any agribusiness one goes into to avoid mistakes that might ruin the business. One must acquire new knowledge and skills needed for a successful business. Consult the experts.
Cassava processing has raised the income of many investors, helping Nigeria to diversify the economy. It has also created sustainable demand in the industrial food, beverage, chemical and export for cassava-based products through import substitution.
Go and make your own money. All the best!