Prices of cassava stems have nosedived to N400 per bundle after touching a high of N1200 as demand eases in Nigeria.
Last year and earlier in 2017, prices of cassava roots and its derivatives such as gari climbed to an all-time high as demand outstripped supply. Researchers are still expecting data on demand and supply from the National Bureau of Statistics, but cassava roots moved from N13,000 per ton to about N40,000, according to local buyers.
Cassava is an important crop in Nigeria and the roots are processed to starch, ethanol, flour and gari—a staple. Other uses include akpu, and lafun. In some communities, the root is boiled and eaten directly.
In 2014, about 7 million hectares was planted with cassava, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Most of the varieties planted to cover this hectarage were from the informal sector, says Dr Peter Kulakow, Cassava Breeder with IITA who is also working on the cassava seed systems project.
The Nigerian cassava seed system is not well structured, an arrangement that the project—Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Seed System for Cassava (BASICS) is trying to correct.
Farmers usually obtain planting materials from previous field, cut them in lengths of about a meter and tie them into bundles comprising 50 stems each and sell.
Certification from regulators is still rare but the Nigerian Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) is working with BASICS to set standards and begin the certification of cassava planting materials.
Farmer Monsurat Kassim, is one of those selling cassava stems in South West Nigeria through the informal channel.
In an interview with Cassava Matters, she said there has been more demand for cassava stems than the previous years.
“More people are buying the stems this year than they did last year… I think the rise in price of cassava products is part of the motivation,” she explained.