Cassava Market Bonanza
A newly opened factory in Nigeria provides a secure market for 400
tons of fresh cassava per day grown by 20,000 poor farmers
An ultramodern glucose syrup factory using cassava as its major
raw material has commenced production in Nigeria. Built at a cost
of N2.5 billion by Ekha Agro Nig. Ltd., a private sector
initiative, in partnership with the International Starch Institute
(ISI) in Denmark and several Nigerian banks, the company will
produce 100 tons of glucose syrup daily.
"It will initially produce 30,000 tons of glucose syrup per
annum, saving the country $15 million hitherto spent annually on
imports," says Mr. Samuel Osarenkhoe, chairman and chief
executive officer of the company. As Nigeria currently requires
120,000 tons of glucose syrup annually, the factory is set to meet
immediately a quarter of national demand for the commodity, which
is used in pharmaceuticals, food and brewing..
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
provides technical backstopping and research support to the
factory, which currently employs 50 engineers and 70 agronomists
who organize and work with more than 20,000 cassava out-growers and
cluster farmers who daily supply to the factory 400 tons of fresh
cassava roots valued at about 2 million Nigerian naira ($15,000).
On the advice of IITA, the company maintains 3,000 hectares of
cassava farmland to supplement fresh roots from its contract
Nigeria leads the rest of the world in cassava production, but
90% of the more than 30 million tons of Nigerian cassava grown each
year is consumed locally as food, mainly as gari (or
farina, as the roasted granule is known in Latin America).
However, the situation started changing in 2005, when, under a
presidential initiative on cassava export, the first shipload of
cassava chips was exported to China. Ever since, Nigeria's
export of cassava products has been actively pursued, with organic
gari being exported to Europe and the United States of
"The major challenge facing Nigerian cassava today is
balancing the needs of large-scale factories with adequately
compensating local producers for their costs," comments Dr.
Richardson Okechukwu, data manager of IITA's Integrated Cassava
Technologies are being introduced by IITA to improve labor
productivity and increase yield through mechanized production. For
instance, IITA works in collaboration with the Cassava Equipment
Fabricators Association of Nigeria, Flour Millers Association and
other registered bodies to develop planters, harvesters, peelers,
hydraulic presses and dryers with a view to adding value, removing
drudgery in production and processing, and turning cassava into an
Commenting on IITA's partnership with private companies in
Nigeria, Dr. Alfred Dixon, an IITA cassava breeder, says such
companies offer relief to the Nigerian Cassava Growers Association,
whose members often complain of cassava gluts. They help to mop-up
excess cassava produced by poor farmers, who directly supply raw
materials to private companies for cash on delivery. Nigerian
cassava has witnessed gluts in the past, leading to poor market
prices for fresh root and gari. To ensure the success of
the public-private partnership initiative, IITA has since 2004
provided technical and logistical support to Ekha Agro Farms by
training its agronomists, sharing information with the
company's promoters, providing certified improved cassava
varieties, and building farmer clusters around the company.
"This is a dream come true," says a lead farmer, who
confirmed that he and his colleagues have been contracted to supply
cassava roots to the company.
Under its research-for-development paradigm shift, IITA
currently partners with large-scale private companies in the
Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and
Uganda. The companies process cassava into various industrial
products. The initiative aims to stabilize market prices, adding
value to cassava and enabling poor farmers to earn a good income.
Some of the industrial cassava products currently being produced
include high-quality cassava flour for bread and confectionaries,
industrial starch, adhesives and ethanol.
For more information, contact Dr. Okechukwu (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Taye
Babaleye, IITA public relations manager (email@example.com).