Harnessing the Economic Potential of Cassava production in Nigeria
Nigeria is the largest cassava producer globally, accounting for about one-fifth (21%) of total production worldwide.
The demand for cassava and its constituents is high in the domestic economy. However, the supply has been unable to meet the huge demand.
The demand for cassava and its constituents is high in the domestic economy. However, the supply has been unable to meet the huge demand. For instance, the supply-demand gap for High-Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) stands at about 485,000 metric tonnes (MT) per annum while the gap for cassava starch is about 290,000 MT.
PwC estimates that Nigeria would need about 28.3 million metric tonnes of fresh cassava root planted annually on about 1.2 million hectares of land to meet the country’s demand for some of the cassava by-products and derivatives listed here: ethanol, cassava-based constituents in sugar syrup, HQCF, garri (a fine to coarse granular flour of varying texture made from cassava roots), cassava-based adhesives such as cassava starch, caustic soda, formaldehyde, hydrochloric acid and sodium silicate) (see section 5 for more information).
Overall, from the total output of 59.5 million metric tonnes (MMT) of cassava produced in the country based on 2018 estimates, Nigeria has the economic potential to generate revenues of US$427.3 million from domestic value-addition and derive an income of US$2.98 billion in agricultural exports of cassava. Furthermore, the local value-addition to cassava via local manufacturing and processing could potentially unlock about US$16 million in taxes to the government.
Part of the reason for the inability to satisfy domestic demand and boost production for the export markets is linked to the traditional method of cassava farming which has led to low yields and post-harvest losses over the years. Furthermore, the perishability of the crop and poor logistics along the cassava value chain can also lead to huge losses.
The importance of value-addition to cassava via local manufacturing and processing to support local industrial activities cannot be overemphasized. There is significant local industrial demand for the derivatives and by-products that the commodity can provide, in addition to local consumption for the primary output of cassava. This is because there is a three-yearly glut cycle that occurs in cassava farming in Nigeria.
The cycle implies that harvesting of cassava is characterised by a cycle of a glut that occurs every 3 to 4 years and results in an excess output of cassava for local consumption. This excess output leads to depressed prices in the local markets due to over-supply following a period of scarcity and high prices.1
This glut can be eliminated if the value-chain for cassava is diversified to include industrial processing, as the crop is primarily being used almost entirely for traditional foods (e.g. garri), of which local consumption is not often enough to absorb the glut cycle that occurs periodically. It is therefore important that government improve access to finance, enhance the cassava value-chain from end-to-end, incentivize and stimulate domestic production and manufacturing of cassava derivatives, increase agricultural extension services for cassava farmers and ensure more funding for agricultural research and development.