• Sunday, July 21, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Stakeholders seek law to sustain N3trn annual cassava production

businessday-icon

Stakeholders have renewed the push for a legislation to include cassa¬va flour in bread making to ensure that the country’s current 45 million metric tons an¬nual cassava production worth over N3 trillion is sustained and increased.

The stakeholders, who include people drawn from the private and pub¬lic sectors involved in de¬velopment, production, processing and marketing along the cassava value chain, met on Thursday in Abuja at a forum tagged ‘Cassava Executive Bill’.

This proposed bill which is a local content policy push in the agric sector also entails a man¬datory requirement for all makers of edible flour in Nigeria, especially in the northern part of the country, to mix 20 percent sorghum flour with wheat produced in the country or imported.

Millers in the southern part of the country would also be mandated to mix wheat flour with cassava flour. Incentives such as tax exemptions have been included by the stakehold¬ers for compliance and punitive measures which may include total shut¬down of business have been canvassed for non-compliance. Also, incen¬tives have been canvassed for producers of high qual¬ity cassava flour and high quality sorghum flour.

Ibukun Odusote, per¬manent secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, said about 60 percent of farmers in Nigeria is in¬volved in cassava pro¬duction. This means that about 12 million of the 20million farmers in Nigeria are involved in cassava production.

Odusote, however, ex¬pressed concern that about N635 billion is spent annu¬ally on wheat importation, adding that the quality of wheat imported into Nige¬ria is questionable.

She said actualisation of the 20 percent cassava flour inclusion would save the country about N127 billion in foreign exchange annually as well as create about 1.3 million jobs.

“Rural agro-industry would be developed through processing ac¬tivities and farmers’ live¬lihood would be highly improved and the nation would be better off,” she stated.

Louw Burger, a South African and chief execu¬tive, Thai Farm Interna¬tional Limited with head¬quarters in Lagos produc¬ing high quality cassava flour with a database of over 2,000 farmers, said at the forum, “We buy about 320 metric tons of cassava per day from farmers spread all over the country. These farm¬ers have ways of raising their own capital; they are good at what they do. We write cheques of nearly N3 million per day seven days a week. If the bill is well handled, it would ensure the long term future of the in-dustry, which means we have a reliable market for our flour, which means we have to buy more cassava tubers, which means the farmers have a steady market. I think the bill has become very necessary. The bill is good for Nigeria, for farmers and would be good for agriculture industry if it is well put together.”