If cassava project is pursued with determination and the needed political will, it can generate over N10trillion for Nigeria annually.
This was the submission of Segun Adewumi, National President of the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA) while speaking at the recent Private sector engagement workshop for sustainable industrial development in Nigeria, in Lagos.
He said cassava can trigger the much needed massive industrial revolution in the country, adding that the workshop is very important as the objective is to provide a roadmap to how Nigeria can generate and develop the raw materials that will trigger and sustain industrial revolution, for her financial prosperity and full employment.
According to him, “The workshop could not have come at a better time when all hands are on deck for diversification from the mono petroleum economy to agriculture.
Speaking on industrial cassava, Adewumi said over 97 per cent of the ethanol requirements in the manufacturing sector is met through importation, stressing that with a sustained ethanol program, the needs of the companies that used the ethanol as raw materials can be met locally while the surplus is exported abroad.
He said researchers across the world have started using micronutrients to upscale the production of cassava to 100 metric tonnes per hectares and also to raise the starch content to 40 per cent which makes cassava the highest source of raw materials for ethanol, starch and those other important industrial products.
He noted that over the years Nigeria is adjudged the highest producer of cassava in the world even though she has no position among the exporters of cassava industrial products.
He, however, advocated for the establishment of a Cassava Development Commission, board or department, whose membership shall derive mostly from the private sector so that the program can become a purely commercial venture.
He also requested for a yearly development of 1million hectares of land in the five year project to cultivate cassava, adding that at the end of the fifth year the association shall have five million hectares of cassava that will produce 200 metric tonnes of industrial cassava from which the nation can generate over N10trillion yearly.
He added that NCGA will be highly delighted if the association is requested to forward a roadmap and business plan that will actualize the above objective.
“Already, we have acquired freehold agricultural land in many states with the desire to clear and demarcate the land into blocks of ten hectares and allocate the blocks to our youth farmers who will cultivate cassava under the supervision of the world’s experts in cassava production.
He added that processing facilities will be sited within the farms to eliminate transportation cost to distant cassava mills.
“A matter of interest is that most cassava milling plants generate electricity for themselves and the neighbouring communities. This is to say that the cassava project can also solve part of our electricity problem.
“Over the years, a lot of opportunities have been wasted largely due to our over dependence on resources from oil. Now that we have woken up to the realities of a new world economic order, I urge the organiser of this workshop to exercise their leverage and ensure that agriculture remains the focus of government in translating our God given raw materials into resources-based manufacturing activities,” he added.