By Dr Adeola Odedina
Over the past few weeks, the social media sphere has been abuzz with a certain video showcasing cassava processing from a specific county (Name withheld). Predictably, the video quickly went viral, coinciding with a period of elevated prices for gaari/cassava. As a seasoned cassava expert and farmer, many of my admirers forwarded the video to me, accompanied by questions like…
“High Chief Dr. Odedina, why can’t we replicate this?”
My response is simple and direct:
First and foremost, Nigeria reigns as the top producer of cassava globally, yielding over 60 million metric tonnes annually. However, the sobering reality is that we consume over 80 percent of this production as gaari, fufu, or akpu.
In 2006, during the inception of the Presidential Initiative on Cassava, I had the privilege of actively participating alongside other stakeholders on Cassava, precisely a collaborator on pre emotive management of Cassava Mossic disease and we multiplied and recommended top Cassava varieties that formed the basis of high yield been experienced today.The landscape initially shifted positively, but later took a downturn when investments in cassava processing faltered due to the lack of inclusive and sustainable supply of raw material to industries persuaded to be established to use Cassava as raw materials.
A few years later, the Bill Gates Foundation and other global donors launched the largest cassava intervention projects in Africa, namely CAVA 1 and CAVA 2 (Cassava Adding Value for Africa). I was honored to serve as the Productivity Advisor for these projects in Nigeria and other African nations
Over the span of eight years, significant efforts were made to unlock the immense potential of cassava and its derivatives, such as Glucose Syrup, ethanol, starch, and High-Quality Cassava Flour for various applications like bread and biscuits. Nigeria took the lead due to its strength, size, zeal, and commitment. While only a few flash driers were installed in Ghana, Malawi, and Tanzania, Nigeria boasted more than 20 in one state alone. I remember spending some time in the Northern states collaborating with cassava processors to ensure sustainable raw material supply. Remarkably, there are more large cassava processing firms in a single state in Nigeria than in any other country in the world or Africa. These mega-scale facilities process over 300 tonnes of cassava daily,Yes. each of those factories
Utilising up to 300 to 500 fresh Cassava roots per day ( 500 long trailers per day!) producing products like Gaari and Starch for both local consumption and export, thus presenting ample job opportunities for farmers and youth. To provide a glimpse into these operations, I’ll share a video showcasing one of the large-scale cassava processing facilities I’ve been involved with in Nigeria. Stay informed about the facts on Cassava! Do not be misled!
The onus is on stakeholders and value chain actors to fashion out ways of reaping the benefits of the unique position of Nigeria in the world to facilitate how the crop can deliver food, jobs , foreign exchange and fuel Agricultural Industrialization.
Dr Adeola Odedina is the Immediate Past Honourable Commissioner for Agriculture in Ogun State, Nigeria
Former Rector of Moshood Abiola Polythecnic, Ogun State Nigeria
And Former Provost of Federal College of Agriculture Akure Ondo State Nigeria.