The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says Nigeria imports cassava derivatives valued at about S600 million annually.
CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele disclosed this on Tuesday at a meeting with governors of cassava-producing states in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
At the event, the apex bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association and Large Scale Cassava Processors.
Emefiele explained that the country was blessed with several varieties of cassava that could be explored to optimum potential.
He, however, said there was a need to adopt improved varieties and practices that would guarantee better yield, better processing efficiency, increased profit and improved standard of living for the farmers.
In achieving this goal, the CBN governor revealed that consultations were ongoing with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, and the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike.
According to him, increasing cassava production is a necessity apart from foreign exchange conservation as starch, glucose, sorbitol, and other products were being imported.
“Statistics show that out of the 53.0 million metric tonnes of cassava produced in Nigeria annually, more than 90 per cent is processed into food for human consumption.
“Whereas a significant industrial demand exists for the output of processed cassava, primarily as substitutes for imported raw materials and semi-finished products,” Emefiele said.
He added, “Potential demand that exists in our cassava value chain, demand High-Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) in bread, biscuits and snacks is above 500,000 tonnes annually while supply is below 15,000 tonnes.
“Demand for cassava starch is above 300,000 tonnes annually while supply is below 10,000 tonnes.”
The demand for cassava-based constituents in sugar syrup, according to the CBN governor, is above 350,000 tonnes annually while supply is almost nonexistent.
He noted that potential demand for ethanol in the country as a fuel for cooking, to power vehicles (E10), and other industrial uses, exceeded one billion litres while production was nearly zero.
Emefiele said the CBN was taking bolder steps in collaborating with the private sector, state governments producing cassava, and other stakeholders towards resuscitating the sector.