MADE: Linking Markets For Cassava Production
FACED with infrastructural deficit and an aging workforce, Nigeria’s agricultural sector has suffered from inconsistent policies and disjointed development programmes. The country is largely at the mercy of food imports, while its vast arable land is under-farmed.
Strikingly, Cassava, which is Nigeria’s major produce, is largely underutilised, as much of the crop is processed for food, leaving out its huge industrial value.
However, there is a quiet revolution to reorganise the cassava value chain and tackle low mechanisation and youth indifference in food production. The plan, is to link cassava produce to industrial plants that need the inputs such as starch and ethanol.
The drive, which is focused on the Niger Delta, is known as the Market Development for the Niger Delta (MADE) and funded by UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).
Team Leader of MADE, Dr. Terry Lacey, said the initiative is promoting parts of the production chain to supply starch, glucose, high quality cassava flour and ethanol noting, “We think that ethanol would increase considerably. The noodle industry would benefit more from the high quality cassava flour input as well as into breads. Our problem is not what the market needs, it is that we can’t supply enough cassava.”
According to a study by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (bmZ), losses in the cassava value chain relate to measurable quantitative and qualitative losses in the course of transforming cassava into various products.
The study pegs the total monetary loss from cassava at the farm gate and during processing, storage, transport and marketing at N144 billion, which is attributed mostly to the disorganised state of the value chain.
Noting that the programme is not restoring anything that existed before in agriculture in Nigeria, but to construct new elements, Lacey said there are arrangements to support about 20,000 agricultural loans in the country.
The main thrust of the programme, he said, is to collaborate with state governments and federal agencies to mobilise business development and service providers, farmers and banks to work together to build a sustainable link for industrial growth.
He said, ‘We need to get people to understand how they get money from the banks as well as put people in the banks so they know how they work with the farmers. We are already involved with 8,000 farmers trying to make these connections.”
According to him, “We have already started testing products of middle-level processors of the cassava industry to reach the standards of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and also to reach that of the buyers. There are things that have tried to reverse what we plan to do, recently. For example, some buyers of high quality cassava products in Rivers State are actually buying from the Western side of Nigeria instead of from those making the product next to them. I think it would take a little while to get all these round the right way. But the farmers are making progress. But we can’t do that overnight.”
Managing Director of Josy Integrated Services Limited, Dr. Josephine Llyod, who runs a farm and a factory in Bayelsa State, said MADE has provided a marketing link for her business, and has provided her with the capacity to gather rural dwellers and farmers and give them a sense of belonging, and change the orientation of those, who abandoned farm work because of oil.
“It has changed our perspective from oil to agriculture. I have a lot of products that are made from high quality cassava flour. These are cakes, breads, cookies, biscuits, fufu and garri. People have responded excellently to the products. Before people preferred the traditional variants, but now, they are going for what is closest to them. We are giving them something that has more value.
She established a factory with the help of the Federal Government through the Bank of Industry (BOI), which has enabled her to mop up all the produce in the state.
Managing Director of Godilogo Farms Limted, in Cross River State, Julius Ogar, said though the sector has had issues with infrastructure and roads, but MADE has linked them with the end-users, which are big industries that buy starch and the high-quality cassava flour from producers.
He said, “it has enabled us to organise farmers into corporative, an out-grower scheme. We are surer of the availability of raw materials. It is now a complete cycle. Within the period, we have entered into partnership with MADE, there has been a 30 to 50 per cent sales for us.”
For Nigerian Farmers