The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, yesterday said Nigeria would reap over $5 billion annually from cassava export in the next few years.
Speaking while declaring open the National Cassava Summit in Abuja, Chief Ogbeh said the country had made mistakes in the past 30 years by ignoring agriculture, adding that every industry in the agriculture sector which had the potential for foreign exchange would be developed.
Professor Lateef Sanni of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta in Ogun State who spoke on “Achieving a $5 billion Cassava Industry in Nigeria”, said the industry had the potential to create millions of jobs across the cassava value chain.
“By 2021, the Nigerian cassava industry will represent over $5billion, spur rural industrial development, generate millions of new jobs and create wealth for over 45 million people,” Professor Sanni said.
He said the cassava industrial demand for starch was 269,000 but that the current supply stands at 20,000. For ethanol, 200 million litres is demanded while only 9 million litres is produced, he added.
Professor Sanni said the capacity of cassava farmers needed to be improved upon and more processing companies had to be established to achieve the target.
The president of the cassava farmers association, Pastor Adewumi Segun, said Nigeria, the world’s largest producer of cassava, could not export high quality cassava, adding that the potential was there but processing was the major problem.
He said the association had acquired 15,000 hectares of land in Ekiti State for the cassava programme.