GIZ and PIND, in collaboration with public and private sector partners, as well as the federal government, hosted a one-day National Cassava Summit, with the theme “Towards a U.S.$5 billion Per Annum Cassava Industry in the Next Five Years” on September 8th, 2016, at Sheraton Hotel Abuja.
The summit provided an opportunity for multi-stakeholder conversations between farmers association, research institutions, input suppliers, banks, small-medium scale processors, large-scale industrial processors, transporters, marketers, development organizations and government ministries and departments. It also helps provide accurate data on the state of cassava industrial and food markets. The summit aims to organize a well-coordinated and well-targeted positive action that acted as a catalyst for growth with corresponding multiplier effects on jobs creation and industrialization.
The summit is a year in the making, working closely with key development partners in both the private and public sectors to ensure inclusiveness and targeted objectives with a roadmap for growth for the cassava agriculture sector. The Summit also coincided with the public launching of the Industrial Cassava Stakeholders Association of Nigeria.
The objectives of the summit include understanding the current state of the cassava sub-sector and basis for transformative change, promoting inclusive investment in the cassava industry based on analysis and dialogue, developing strategies for launching cassava into a high performing and growth-oriented sub-sector, building consensus on a policy framework to underpin cassava industrial development, and development organisations on National Cassava Summit.
Cassava is a staple food crop throughout the African continent, particularly in Nigeria. Despite being the world’s largest producer of the cassava, Nigeria produces cassava primarily for domestic consumption and does not rank among leading exporting countries. The potential of the cassava sector to drive accelerated growth and jobs creation will not be fulfilled without a systemic approach to addressing structural and political economy issues that currently constrain it. Among these issues are: relatively low yields and high costs, strong competition by the traditional food market with the industrial market, weak value chain coordination, poor infrastructure, poor access to finance, and unfair competition from cheap foreign imports. Though not exhaustive, the challenges listed demonstrate that the cassava agriculture sub-sector faces myriad problems and offers huge potential. Coordinated action towards addressing these challenges will catalyze growth with corresponding multiplier effects on jobs creation and industrialization for Nigeria.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, disclosed during the National Cassava Summit on Thursday 8th September in Abuja that ‘’the country is targeting to reap over $5billion annually from cassava production in the next few years’’
He also said that Nigeria’s Agriculture has been neglected over the last 30 years but now the sector has the potential to employ more youths and improve foreign exchange earnings. The Minister decried the economic challenges currently facing the country and the negative activities of the Niger Delta Militants. Chief Ogbeh equally blamed Nigerians’ high preference for unnecessary foreign consumer products and the resultant contribution in depleting the Country’s Foreign Reserve. He stated that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) under his watch is poised to enhance cassava export for foreign exchange as done in Brazil, Thailand and Vietnam.
Chief Ogbeh expressed concern over the poor number of farmers accessing credit facilities in the country and said that the Federal Government would enhance and strengthen the Bank of Agriculture to allow farmers access to credit facilities at 5 to 6 per cent interest rate, adding that, “Most of the Commercial Banks give loans to farmers at 28 to 30 per cent interest rate. How do farmers grow with such a high interest rate and make profit? We have to intensify efforts to address this problem in order to meet our target because earning in cassava industry is so high”.
The Minister stated that the Ministry is working on 6% interest rate to Farmers and exploring Cassava based products for compounding Livestock Feeds for cattle in order to solve incessant Fulani herdsmen communal clash. He enjoined everyone to continue to partner and bear with the Government in the renewed efforts to strategically reposition the country for economic prosperity. Chief Ogbeh commended the Foreign Partners who identified with Nigeria during this trying period. He assured that none would be forgotten when the economy improves for better.
The Minister however urged research institutes like the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture to include vitamins in cassava in the next research work to balance its nutritional content and enhance better consumption.
Also speaking at the Summit, Prof. Lateef Sani of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta and the Country Manager for Cassava Adding Value for Africa Phase II Project, when presenting on the roadmap said the industry has the potential to create millions of job across the country through its Value Chain. He stated that “By 2021, Nigeria cassava industry will represent over 5 billion dollars, spur rural industrial development, generate millions of new jobs and create wealth for over 45 million people and contributes to National Food Security.
He spoke on the need for an all inclusive inter-relation and the various stakeholders (Input suppliers, producers, intermediate traders – primary and secondary, processors – primary and secondary, marketing channels/outlets and the consumers including financial institutions, research institutes and extension centres, standard authorities and government) and the connection to make it work.
He also underpinned various pitfalls that responsible capable and are capable of causing disconnections among the players and which will not make the goal achievable. Prof Sanni gave an insight into the supply gap among major industrial targets (starch, ethanol, glucose syrup, high quality cassava flour) the investment outlook and target to achieve in various sectors.
In order to achieve the Road Map, Prof Sanni proffered that Consistent supply of raw materials to the end user industries is a necessity. The private sector should invest in the establishment of cassava industries, provision of targeted support infrastructure for the industries and provision of targeted support for the industry. In addition, good policy and institutional reforms for the development of the Nigerian cassava sector, sufficient funding of extension services and continuous collaboration among cassava based projects for cassava industry development were highlighted as key factors for success and growth of the sector.
Dr. Alfred Dixon of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture also speaking at the National Cassava Summit said Nigeria was confronted with a growing population and rising urbanization with high demand for food and feeds for livestock. He said “Cassava is an appropriate commodity to feature in Nigeria’s economic development. “Nigeria’s cassava production account for 20 per cent of the total global output but less than 1 per cent is being exported.”
The summit resolved that, for Nigeria to be globally competitive in cassava export and achieve the $5 Billion Annual income target for the next 5 years, improved seed and inputs supply system and better cassava agronomic practices as well as cluster formation of cassava producers for efficient input use, easy and better aggregation, logistics and marketing must be ensured.
Some key takeaways from the summit were that:
Government and Private Sectors should invest more in mechanization and there should be conscious and deliberate efforts to disseminate information on cassava through extension service.
Government should promote cassava-based diets for animal feeds as a result of its potential to solve incessant Fulani herdsmen communal clash, encourage public and private partnership in extension and extend anchor programmes to cassava as done to other crops.
Stakeholders should put cassava information in the public domain.
Cassava products should be standardized for export markets.
NAFDAC and standard regulating agents should be friendlier in cassava regulation.
Single digit interest rate is applauded and should be extended to the cassava industry.
Government should give tax holiday and special intervention funds to major players in the Cassava Industry.