Friday, 22 May 2015

CAVA II, Stakeholders Explore Strategies to Sustain Cassava Production

There seems to be hope for sustaining the Federal Government’s Cassava Transformation Agenda Programme (CTAP), as stakeholders in the cassava value chain gathered recently to deliberate on strategies to enable productivity, access to inputs/credit, growth and development of cassava production and processing in Nigeria.

The event that was held at Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta was organised under the auspices of the Cassava Adding Value for Africa Phase II, (CAVA II) project, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Bank of Industry, Cassava Transformation Agenda Programme, and National Cassava Processors and Marketers Association (NCAPMA).

Speaking at the event the Country Manager, C:AVAII, Nigeria, Professor Lateef Sanni, submitted that one of the major challenges bedevilling cassava production in the country is the inability to create a sustainable market for High Quality Cassava Flour, adding that processors should diversify their products in order to make their business sustainable and profitable.

The country Manager further expatiated thus; “we are re-strategizing in other to make the project sustainable. While we are not running away from the first option which is the production of High Quality Cassava Flour, we will give you three options that C:AVAII is pushing for. First, we need to get a short distance supply chain for the SMEs. Secondly, diversification, processors should move away from producing only High Quality Cassava Flour and explore other options. We can produce high quality flour if we are sure of the market. If not, we can explore other options such as production of starch, tapioca, fufu, and Ijebugari. Hence, when you diversify your products, you spread the risk in the business among so many other components.”

Addressing the issue of appropriate pricing of High Quality Cassava Flour; the Technical Adviser to the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief (Mrs) Adetunji Oluwatoyin, who was represented by Mr Samuel Ayeni, a director in the Ministry, revealed that the Federal Government has pegged the price of High Quality of Cassava Flour at N103,000 per tonne. And that the Federal Government has also assured the processors that she will mop up the unused flour in its Strategic Waste Reserves.” Mr Ayeni however assured that the Cassava Transformation Agenda programme is taken serious by the Federal Government. According to Mr.  Ayeni; “The government is working hard to ensure that the programme is sustained. The Cassava Policy Bill is taken seriously. The bill is presently before the National Assembly.”

Appraising the installation of equipment acquired by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for cassava SMEs across the country, the Project Director, Cassava Adding Value for Africa (C:AVA II) Dr Kolawole Adebayo, urged the SMEs to carry out durability tests on their equipment in order to ascertain its quality.

One of the SME owners, Alhaji Abdulhanon Daramola expressed his gratitude to C:AVA for throwing its weight behind the Cassava Transformation Agenda Programme, adding that its technical support has gone a long way in making the scheme a success. “I want to thank C:AVA for working with Nobex, because they brought in consultants to evaluate the new flash dryers and it was the outcome of the evaluation that translated into what we have today.”
In the same vein another SME owner Mr Femi Salami applauded the efficiency of the new flash dryer, pointing out that it is an upgrade of the ones used in his factory before now. “The old flash dryer was producing 250kg per hour with 15 litres of kerosene; however the new Nobex6 cyclone flash dryer is an improvement of what we had. For instance, “when the new flash dryer was installed, C:AVAII and the NRI team visited my factory. We carried out a test on the new flash dryer and we were able to process 225kg of cassava in 30 minutes, which means in one hour, we could get 450kg”. Based on C:AVA’s advice to Nobex, has been able to improve the capacity of the flash dryer to be able to produce 500kg in one hour.”

Mr. Salami however decried the undue bureaucracies placed by the Bank of Industry which has made it difficult for the SMEs to access the fund released to them by the federal government. He also lamented that the price of HQCF in the market is still at a discouraging price of N80, 000 per tonne, which is not profitable to the SMEs.” he said.

In his closing remarks, Prof Sanni reassured the SMEs of C:AVA’s readiness to offer technical support to them, while urging the Bank of Industry to make working capital available to the SMEs so as to facilitate their production

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