Nigerians have been advised to invest in cassava production through adoption of modern technology in a bid to increase its contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and enhance employment rate.
Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi and Dr. Angel Adelaja-Kuye, Special Assistant on Agriculture to Ogun State Governor, Mr. Dapo Abiodun, gave the advice recently at the launch of Greenhills Cassava Farmstead in Ogun State with the theme: ‘Re-inventing the Wheel: Using Technology for Effective Farming.’
Speaking at the launch, Ooni Ogunwusi who was represented by Otunba Tomisin Olawale, his Personal Assistant in his opening remarks, said that the country required a comprehensive approach to developing the value chains in cassava production.
Ogunwusi noted that it was important for Nigerian framers to reinvent the wheel by adopting the use of technology.
He said that like in other climes, agricultural produce, especially cassava could be used for economic development and provision of jobs to young Nigerians.
He said: “We need to have a comprehension approach to developing the value chains in our cassava production and remodel a positive and dynamic market direction stands.”
In her speech, Adelaja-Kuye, said that the Ogun State Government was supporting farmers in the state modern technologies.
These technologies, according to her had further enhanced agric produce in the state in particular.
Mr. Lanre Osifeso, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Greenhills Cassava Farmstead Limited, said that his interest developed in agriculture about five years ago, saying that he had been fascinated with development in the sector ever since.
According to Osifeso, one of his goals was to promote agriculture particularly among youths of the country, while also contributing to the growth of Nigeria in general.
He explained that through investment in agriculture, food security could be guaranteed and poverty rate reduced.
Osifeso pointed out that cassava is Nigeria’s largest crop with over 59 million tonnes in 2017 and the second largest in terms of value behind maize.
Though, he said Nigeria is the world’s leading producer of cassava, but lamented that the country recorded a small total export value of $1.25 million; a 0.057 per cent share of the world cassava export, which stood at $2.19 billion in 2017.
This, he said was in contrast to Thailand with the highest export value of $1.9 billion despite being the third world’s leading cassava producers with almost 40 million tonnes in the same year under review.
He added: “Cassava is a crop that can contribute immensely to food security mainly because of its ability to store its mature edible roots in the ground for about three years. It’s also a drought-tolerant crop and can be grown in areas with uncertain rainfall patterns.
“Most of the cassava harvested in Nigeria is processed into foods. Cassava is very versatile and while there is little processing beyond foods, it’s derivatives like starch and high quality cassava flour (HQCF) are applicable in many types of products such as confectionery, sweeteners, textiles, paper, glue, biodegradable products and drugs.”
Osifeso, emphasised that there was a high potential demand of about 250,000 tons/year for HQCF primarily from 10 per cent replacement in bread flour and for use in bouillon, noodles and adhesive industries.
He pointed out that huge demand for local and modified starch surpassed 230,000 tonnes per year in the food, paint and pharmaceutical industries in Nigeria, while in confectionery industries, a growing demand of 150,000 tonnes per year, exists in fructose syrup.
The GreenHills Cassava Farmstead is a 10,000 hectare, but he said the company was starting with 2,000 hectares, fully mechanised commercial farm.
He noted that the company in the next five years hoped to set up 510 tons per day high quality cassava starch processing line and 12.5 tons daily of cassava flour processing lines, all strategically positioned on the farm.
The first of the facilities, he said would be finished by January 2022, adding that a total of 10,000 hectares is required to support the processing plant for 300 working days with a targeted yield of 30 tons per hectare.