GOVERNOR of the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has said the Bank has the potential to employ over two million Nigerians by funding large scale cassava production.
Emefiele disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja at a meeting with State Governors of Cassava Producing States and Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Nigeria Cassava Growers Association and Large Scale Cassava Processors .
The apex bank boss said the cassata value chain has enormous potential for employing over 2 million people in Nigeria if well harnessed, due to the diverse secondary products that it offers.
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. He therefore urged the states to be more viable in providing support for the growth of industries .
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 Apex bank boss said the CBN 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 added 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 Apex Bank boss further said , he 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.”
Emefiele noted that “ Nigeria 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 cried out “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. To ameliorate these challenges.”
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.
Emefiele 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 event, the 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.
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