Nigeria’s cassava output is set to increase as a result of rising demand by China for cassava products used in food and pharmaceuticals and as a bio-fuel, according to the Nigerian Cassava Growers Association (NCGA).

The NCGA plans to increase output to 200 million tons yearly on five million hectares (12 million acres) by the end of 2021, using a new growing technique and a crop variety that yields an average of 40 tons a hectare, its President Segun Adewunmi has said.

The variety now commonly used produces about 30 tons per hectare.

“Chinese firms are demanding Nigeria’s cassava pellets and we are positioning ourselves to meet this demand in the next three years. For instance, we just got an import request from China and other countries for 10 million tons of cassava chips.” Adewunmi told an international medium, Bloomberg.

Nigeria is the world’s leading grower of cassava, producing 57.6 million metric tons in 2017, exporting about 3.2 million tons yearly and earning a record $136 million in 2013.

About 60 percent of global exports of cassava products goes to China, after it overtook the European Union (EU) in 2007 as the leading importer of the source of animal feed, ethanol, industrial starch and syrup used in sweeteners, according to the World Bank.

Oil-dependent Nigeria is seeking to diversify its sources of export income after a plunge in crude prices from 2014 triggered the country’s worst economic contraction in 25 years in 2016. About 70 percent of global cassava exports are in the form of pellets and chips used for animal feed, while the rest are shipped as starch, syrup for food and pharmaceuticals. Japan,
Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the U.S. and the Philippines are among the major importers of cassava products including industrial starch and flour.

In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, cassava is produced mainly by small-holder farmers using rudimentary implements, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

By Okwy lroegbu-Chikezie

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