Nigeria remains one of the highest cassava producing country in the world. Cassava, Manihot esculenta is tuber crop having different forms of varieties like the 419 and all others, each variety has their importance and significance. Cassava is what almost all south-western farmers in Nigeria plant. The planting procedure is normal as many even plant without any technical training but let me just put you through the planting process, it is simple you know?
Firstly, know that we don’t plant cassava with a seed, Right? We plant using stem cut and when we plant, we make sure at least 3 of the nodes are facing up so as to allow for proper growth and development. Before planting, ensure the land is well prepared, ploughed and harrowed if need be. Cassava will need ridges done at 1m x 1m, well loosened and drained soil after ploughing and harrowing may not need ridge but to plant directly. After cassava is planted, proper weeding should be done manually or using suitable herbicide. Cassava is more like a canopy plant, I mean as they grow they form canopy and this reduce weed management.
There are many food products from on cassava, Cassava tubers can be eaten boiled, mashed, and deep-fried. Processed cassava like tapioca (cassava starch), a worldwide food ingredient, fufu (cassava flour boiled in water) and garri (fermented cassava mash); the last two are popular foods in West and Central Africa. Cassava tubers also provide starch for ethanol production. Other cassava products include the leaves, which are consumed as vegetables or used as feed for livestock and numerous by-products of cassava processing industries (from starch, ethanol and cassava food production, etc.), which are also potential feeds. Cassava flour unsuitable for human consumption is also recycled as animal feed.
A report by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) identified policy, inadequate access to consistent supplies of high-quality cassava roots, good transportation network for conveying the fresh crop to processing plants, and lack of power for processing equipment to process high-quality flour as factors limiting cassava processing in the country.
A 2017 report by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) showed that the country imported $654 million (N235.4 billion) worth of cassava by-products that year. The breakdown shows that Nigeria’s demand for starch is put at 600,000MT and supply is 24,000MT with imports accounting for 576,000MT (96 percent) yearly. Also, local demand for HQCF is put at 504,000MT and supply is 60,480MT, with importation accounting for 443,520MT (88 percent) yearly.
Similarly, ethanol demand is put at 350 million MT and local supply is 10.5 million MT, while imports accounted for 339.5 million MT (97 percent) yearly. To curtail the country’s high importation of cassava products and ensure that the country benefits from the comparative advantage it has in cassava production, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in 2019, restricted FX for importers of starch, ethanol, and high-quality cassava flour.
What are the opportunities in cassava production?
A harvester: YES! You can be a harvester, Nigeria production sector has not technologically developed to have tech-driven harvesters and I know harvesting can be very tedious, in fact a lot of cassava farmers allow their buyers to harvest themselves so as to reduce the stress of harvesting. Are you not seeing an opportunity here? Majority of farmers don’t see the need for something’s until it is demonstrated to them. Having a firm that harvest crops for farmers will go a long way in reducing the manual stress farmers go through once it is affordable and productive.
An Agricultural HR: Farmers are in need of productive labourers that understand the rhythm of agricultural work. Labourers that understand the perception of agricultural development. Farmers are constantly faced with different workers deficiency and while some kept on stealing their resources some are not productive at all, it will go a long way if farmers can have a company that recruit hired labourers for them and also recruit faithful managers for them especially for medium and large scale farmers.
A logistic personnel: Do you know that above 20% of foods are lost during logistics, I mean during transportation of food from a point to another point. Logistics personnel are highly needed in the agricultural sector as farmers can’t wait any second to lose profit and produce anymore. It won’t be bad to have a startup or firm like Farmdrive, Coldhubs in Nigeria and Solar Freeze in Kenya to reduce the amount of wastage gotten during transportation of cassava.
A middle man: I know a lot of companies are out now to cancel out middle men in the agricultural sector but can we completely rule them out? As much as extension agent are important so are middle men too, they might not be useful to the geese but what of the gander? You might want to consider being a middle men to those who need them in the agricultural sector.
A producer: Producing cassava can not only be creative it can be profitable. Cassava is one of the most demanded carbohydrate plant in the world apart from rice. To produce cassava, you need an arable piece of land that is well drained and well-articulated, clearing needs to be done and ridging plus harrowing needs to be incorporated. After that is done, don’t forget to spray the land with herbicide (Force up), you don’t want to be weeding when the cassava is grown. Insert the cassava into the soil when soil is moist, cassava are pretty less disturbing plant in terms of management as they are drought resistant and naturally resistant to many pest and diseases. In any case of developed pest, they are available pesticides in agricultural mart in different outlet in Nigeria.
A processor: cassava processing is on another level of profitability, while some process into chips, some process into garri. Tapioca is one of the trending output of cassava. Ethanol used in different industries is gotten and extracted from cassava. Cassava flour (Elubo fufun) that almost all Yoruba’s have love for is gotten from cassava. Why not try to be a processor? Wait! Even starch and High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) are gotten from cassava.
A Livestock Feed Formulator: We all don’t have to process or make garri, some can be an expert in feed formulation for livestock. Cassava chips are needed for livestock feed formulation, farmers also use the cassava peels as feed for ruminants
WHOLESALE AND RETAIL
A retailer: You can want to be a retailer of cassava processed materials. Cassava products are one of the most sought out for in the market. Garri is one of the most selling products of farmers. Garri is consumed by almost all Nigerian. A well packaged and affordable garri for people will go a long way.
Anyways, you might decide not to get engaged with any of the aforementioned opportunities but you can at least eat. Please consume cassava religiously.
Let receive your feedback in the comment section!!!