BY COBHAM NSA, ABUJA – The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, says improved practices and varieties of cassava will save about 600 million dollars that Nigeria currently spends on importing the product’s derivatives yearly.
He said the country is blessed with several cassava varieties that must be effectively harnessed and exploited to maximum potential for better yields and as a major revenue earner.
Mr Emefiele, who spoke at a meeting with State Governors of Cassava Producing States in Abuja on Thursday, said investing on improved varieties and adopting practices would guarantee better yield as well as better processing efficiency.
He also acknowledged that embracing global best practices will increased profit and improved living standard for the farmers, adding; “In achieving this goal, we are holding consultations with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan and the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike.
“Apart from foreign exchange conservation, increasing cassava production is a necessity as starch, glucose, sorbitol and other products currently being imported.”
The apex bank boss further said; “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 substitute for imported raw materials and semi finished products.”
According to Eméfiele, “Potential demand that exists in our cassava value chain, demand for High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) in bread, biscuits and snacks is above 500,000 tonnes annually while supply is below 15,000 tonnes”, adding that; “Demand for cassava starch is above 300,000 tonnes annually while supply is below 10,000 tonnes” he explained.
The CBN Governor said with demand for cassava-based constituents in sugar syrup currently above 350,000 tonnes annually, efforts must therefore be focused on the supply side that is almost non-existent.
For him, there is also an urgent need to explore potential demand for ethanol in the country as fuel for cooking; to power vehicles (E10); and other industrial uses.
Emefiele said with the current demand in excess of one billion litres, it is regrettable that production has remained at nearly zero level.
He assured that CBN will continue its robust collaboration with the private sector, State Governments in cassava producing areas and other stakeholders towards resuscitating the cassava sector.
The occasion witnessed the signing of an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) involving CBN, Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA) and Large Scale Cassava Processors (LSCPs) in the country.