By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said on Thursday that two million jobs will be created by supporting cassava production.
Speaking at the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony in Abuja on Thursday, CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele lamented that “out of the 53.0 million MT of cassava produced in Nigeria annually; more than 90% is processed into food for human consumption.”
The cassava value chain Emefiele said has enormous potential for employing over 2 million people in Nigeria if well harnessed, due to the diverse secondary products that it offers.
Still on job creation, Emefiele noted that the call by President Muhammadu Buhari for 100 million jobs to be created in 10 years “is audacious and requires all hands to be on deck. Particularly, he called on the states to more viable by providing support for the growth of industries which he said is important to the CBN.
Some of the products include High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF), Starch, Sugar Syrups & Sweeteners, Chips-for domestic livestock feed and for export to China, Ethanol/bio-fuels, High Fructose Cassava Syrup (HFCS), Fuel Ethanol (E10) as well as Animal Feed from cassava waste among others.
There is, a significant industrial demand for the output of processed cassava, primarily as substitute for imported raw materials and semi-finished products.
The CBN he said is prepared to reverse the current trend by partnering with the major stakeholders towards developing a blueprint that would facilitate the development of Nigerias cassava value chain on a sustainable basis.
The approach he explained “is to bring all stakeholders together and agree on a framework for modern production and processing of cassava by ensuring that we identify and tackle all major challenges in the value chain from seedlings production, land clearing, planting, harvesting, processing, marketing and provision of extension services among others.”
To this end, a Memorandum of Understanding between; Nigeria Cassava Growers Association and Large Scale Cassava Processors to guarantee steady off-take and processing of cassava in Nigeria going forward was facilitated by the CBN.
Emefiele noted that these steps “will not only resuscitate this vital sector, but it will also help support efforts towards creating jobs for a large number of Nigerians.”
The CBN he said is interested in the cassava value chain because economic diversification is an essential tool for national development “and we are leaving no stone unturned towards repositioning Nigeria on the map of the world not just as the leading cassava producer but a processor as well.”
Compared with any other country of the world, Nigeria, Emefiele noted “has one of the best climate and land resources to produce and process sufficient cassava; good enough; not only for consumption, but also for industrial use and export as the country enjoys both absolute and comparative advantage in producing the commodity.”
The gap and potential demand that exists in cassava value chain: Demand for High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) in bread, biscuits and snacks is above 500,000t annually while supply is below 15,000t; Demand for cassava starch is above 300,000t annually while supply is below 10,000t; Demand for cassava-based constituents in sugar syrup is above 350,000t annually while supply is almost non existent; Potential demand for ethanol in Nigeria as a fuel for cooking, to power vehicles (E10), and other industrial uses exceeds 1 billion litres, while production is nearly zero.
Although huge investments were made into the cassava industry during the cassava bread initiative, the industry the CBN governor said “continues to suffer as a result of low yield varieties, poor farm practices, lack of good quality farm inputs, non-utilization of available cultivable lands, manual system of production, inadequate funding for small holder out grower schemes and low processing capacity.”
In line with CBNs initiatives, it is intervening in the sector through a complete value chain approach that will involve support to the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association at the production level under the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) and support to Large Scale Cassava Processors under the CACS and DCRR programs.
To this end, Emefiele has ordered Development Finance department of the CBN to support operators in the cassava value chain and also assured that commercial banks are ready to the initiative.
Speaking at the ceremony, Ekiti state governor and Chairman Governors’ forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi said the challenge be setting the industry is that there is enough cassava to feed the Industrial appetite for the commodity but banks are not doing enough to fund cassava processing because of the poor collateral value of the mostly uncleared lands.
On the part of the state governors, he said they are ready to provide support to cassava growers with geo-mapping, Certificate of Occupancy and other interventions required of the state governments.
He said the states are want to develop a sustainable framework for the cassava industry, but he appealed to the authorities to look into the security of farmers who are under attack from herders.