Thursday, 9 July 2015

Nigeria: Feed Millers Consider Cassava as Alternative to Maize

In the face of slump in oil price and skyrocketing foreign exchange, Poultry Association of Nigeria has once again renewed their efforts to find an alternative source of energy for poultry feeds; It was against this backdrop that Inclusion of cassava in poultry feed was at the front burner of discussions at the National Poultry Summit held in Lagos, Nigeria.
The conference attracted stakeholders in the poultry industry including farmers, feed millers and scientists who came from far and wide; to add their voice to discussions on how to push the industry forward. The Key player in the industry noted that the price of maize has been unstable all year round, hence the need to find an alternative source of energy in poultry feed milling. Moreover, they noted that the Minimum Guaranteed Price (MGP) for maize which the association has been yearning for, is yet to be approved by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, hence the instability in the price of maize.
Speaking at the Raw Material and Tariff section at the Summit, The former President of Animal Science Association of Nigeria, Dr Mopelola Omotosho, acknowledged that cassava can be used as an alternative source of energy in producing poultry feed, if it fulfils least cost combination. She went further to explain that lack of availability of cassava in commercial quantity hitherto limited the use of cassava in Nigeria. She however revealed that end users can find cassava in commercial quantities in Benue and Taraba State pointing out that the tropical climate in the two states make sun drying of the root crop fast, thereby reducing the risks of aflatoxin infection in birds.  
Adding his voice to the discussions, the Investment Promotion Assistant for Cassava: Adding Value for Africa Project, Mr Mathew Ayoade, explained the CAVA II  Project has gone far in pulling out all the stops which before now, hinder the inclusion of cassava in poultry feed. He noted that finding least cost combination for farmers has been a challenge to feed miller, however the CAVA II project has increased the yield of cassava by 50 per cent. He said the feat was achieved through the introduction of high yielding varieties to the farmers, adding that this will invariably reduce the cost of the production.
He said, “The issue of cost is dependent on the cost of cassava, and that varies all year round just like the price of maize. But what we are trying to do is to increase cassava yield per hectare.  This is because if the farmers have been getting 10 to 12 tons per hectare, the only way we can bring down their cost of production, at the same time reduce the price of cassava is to increase the yield per hectare.  If we increase the yield to about 20 – 30 tons per hectare, it will increase the yield by about 50 per cent per hectare. This will automatically reduce the price of cassava because the economics of scale will definitely come into play and that will bring down the price of cassava.”
Responding to the challenges of availability, cost and quality which were raise at the interactive session, he added, “Misconceptions such as the cyanide content, aflatoxin and problem of unavailability were used in the past to suppress the use of the root crop in poultry. On the issue of aflatoxin, the use of cassava grits instead of chips has significantly improved the drying process thereby reducing the risk of aflatoxin. The grit, unlike the chips used previously, is well compacted and dry better than chips during processing.  He however concluded by availability of cassava is not problem given the reality that many farmers have a glut of cassava in their farms.

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