Despite being world’s largest cassava producer, Nigeria is among the top global countries with low yield per hectare in production.
Farmers have continued to suffer low yields per hectare as a result of poor weed management control and high cost of farm inputs, experts say.
“Some of the limiting factors to increased productivity in cassava production are poor weed control and high cost of farm inputs,” said Abdulai Jalloh, project leader, African Cassava Agronomy Initiative.
“Farmers are not getting the yield they are supposed to get and this makes them not to break even. If the production of cassava is not attractive, farmers will not expand their production areas,” he said.
Jalloh stated that If Nigeria must take advantage of the high potentials in cassava production; farmers need varieties with high starch content, adding that government must initiate policies that would boost cassava production in the country.
Research across the globe shows that some countries have started using micro-nutrients to upscale cassava yields to about 100 metric tonnes per hectare with starch content of cassava up-scaled to 38 percent in Indian and 40 percent in Malaysia.
Due to the low yield per hectare it cost the average Nigerian cassava more to farm a ton of cassava than most farmers in other countries.
“It cost Nigerian farmer between N12, 000 to N20, 000 to produce a ton of Cassava, farmers in other countries produce at less than N5, 000 per Ha,” said Segun Adewunmi, president, Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA).
“The government is ignorant about the opportunities in the cassava value chain. Nigeria currently imports over 95 percent of industrial starch used in the country,” Adewunmi said.
He said many cassava processing industries in the country have collapsed due to inadequate, irregular, unaffordable all-year round supply of cassava.
The supply of raw agricultural inputs like cassava and other outputs have failed to meet industrial demand
Despite the increase in supply of raw agricultural produce to industries it has still failed to increase at a rate it would meet up with rising demand and consumption.
“The volume of cassava we get from farmers is reducing over the years because farmers are not increasing their outputs,” said Ikechukwu Onyemenem, a cassava expert.
Unconfirmed sources say Africa’s largest economy spends $580 million yearly on importation of cassava by products. Multinationals mainly import starch from abroad as they claim that not much local starch meets their standards.
Industrial starch which can be gotten from cassava is used by many across food and beverage sector for the production of caramel, biscuits, bread, and confectioneries. It is also used in non-food industries such as batteries firms, gum and super glue, among others.
Adiodun Olorundenro, chief executive officer, Green Vine Farms said, “I have not being able to increase my output over the years and this is because I don’t have access to improved and quality seedlings and cassava stems for planting coupled with bad roads. Our farmlands are not accessible.”
“I don’t longer supply my farm produce to companies because they price you cheaper and would make payments after three to four weeks after deliveries. The middle men that come to buy from us price our produce better and pay immediately,” he said.