Nigeria loses $200m yearly to neglect of cassava plan – Growers

By Nudoiba Ojen

The Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA) has said that Nigeria loses over $200 million yearly due to the non-implementation of a plan to incorporate cassava products in bread production.

The new National President of NCGA, Mustapha Bakano, said that Nigeria’s continued dependence on imported flour for bread is resulting in millions of dollars in expenditure.

Bakano, who spoke during the inauguration of new executives for the association, blamed change in policy direction for the jettisoning of the cassava bread initiative.

He said, “I won’t say we got it wrong but something happened along the line, government policy direction changed. During the time of Akinwunmi an Minister of Agriculture, there was the cassava bread initiative, had it continued, by now, we would have been using 40 per cent of cassava in flour in the bakery. By now we would not be saying we are suffering from depletion in our foreign reserve.

“Now, we are working tirelessly to see how we can ensure that first, 10 per cent of cassava comes into wheat to reduce the import bill for the country.

“If we are able to input 10 per cent in the first year, we will look at how we reduce the import bill by almost $200 million, by the time we go to 20 per cent, it is now $400 million so we are looking at a framework where we can go to three to four years and we will give it to the government to see how they can be able to implement it,” Bakano said.

He added that the loss is just in one sector as the product can be used in the pharmaceutical sector and ethanol where biofuel can be produced from it.

Bakano stated that despite Nigeria being the highest producer of cassava, the income generated from it is less than $170 million while China, which is producing less, is making over $2 billion annually from the sector.

He however said the association is working on a resource development plan to see how they can bring in the framework that will address all those mitigations and see what the government can help us do.

He said, “We want the government to give a policy direction so that when the policy becomes law, it becomes national and everybody will abide by it so that we can be consuming what we produce instead of putting too much import bill on our country. 40 per cent of cassava can go into bread and we will feel comfortable eating it and it is more nutritious.”

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