Nigeria produces more cassava than any other country in the world. The crop is abundant in 24 of the 36 states, requires minimum labor and inputs, and remains the most important food security crop for millions of Nigerians. Yet every year at least USD 680 million of flour, starch, glucose, and animal feed are imported to Nigeria, most of which can be made from processed cassava. This is largely due to the fact that coordinated harvest and transport for large quantities of commercial grade cassava remain the greatest challenge for Nigeria to increase processing.

At MARKETS we have begun networking farmers in seven states Anambra, Ekiti, Imo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo, to produce cassava for the four largest cassava processors. We are also looking for new investments and replicable innovations in harvesting technology and transport solutions so that processors can buy cassava more efficiently from farmers.

Our recent efforts are helping farmers generate over USD 1.6 million from the sale of cassava root and are assisting processors to generate revenue of over USD 6.1 million from the sale of processed cassava.

We have also assembled an industry brain trust, which includes the four largest processors of cassava and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). By pulling together stakeholders to address transport, mechanization, and market research constraints, we’re helping farmers increase supply to buyers. Doing so will further reduce wastage and increase food security around one of Nigeria’s most readily available crops, and develop an important agro-industry.

Need for progress in agricultural investment

In the last few years, much has been said about the need to promote investment in agriculture. Clearly, Nigeria is not short of ideas and models on how to facilitate investment in agriculture. The various strategic plans and programs are perhaps among the best designed for any developing country. And given the country's abundance of natural and other resources, how far are we from the day when Nigeria can substitute locally produced commodities for imports?

Critical stakeholders, including farmer associations, organized private sector players and the public sector, need to make irrevocable commitment to contribute their individual shares without prompting or coercion. The current effort by the Government of Nigeria to provide 200 billion Naira through the Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme is a welcome step, one that must also be implemented in practice through transparent access to credit through bona fide agribusiness initiatives. Progress must be clear and measured.