NIGERIA – The Federal Government of Nigeria says that it has concluded plans of establishing three modern cassava processing plants in Arochukwu local of Abia state.
The plan was initiated by the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), has also seen farmers in Abia receive training on modern processing of cassava.
FIIRO opened its south-east zonal office in Enugu six years ago, following its expansion to all six geopolitical zones of the country.
South East coordinator of FIIRO, Mr Anthony Chimezie, said this at Atani, notes that FIIRO has also developed methods of processing various farm produce as part of its ambitions of transforming the agric sector and make farming more attractive.
He further stated that FIIRO had also developed modern ways of packaging farm produce citing the packaging of bottled palm wine.
According to him, the bottled palm wine represents one of the latest innovations of FIIRO, adding that the product has a life span of six months without losing its original taste and natural properties.
Nigeria’s cassava sector
Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world with an annual production of 59.49 million metric tons in 2017 – representing approximately 20% of global production and a 37% increase in the last decade.
However, processing cassava into flour and industrial products accounts for just 10% of total cassava output- which does not cover industrial demands.
This has led to an increase in the importation of commodities such as starch, chips, syrups and ethanol. The import bill on cassava by products is as high as US$650million annually.
Subsequently, this has necessitated more investments in the Nigerian cassava processing industry in order to maximize the country’s potential as the world’s largest cassava producer and to take advantage of the growing demand for industrial raw materials.
Cassava remains a basic rural and urban staple, mainly processed into foods such as garri, lafu and fufu to meet the needs of Nigeria’s growing population. The government has also taken up measures to make it commercially viable for industrial purposes.
Notably, the Nigerian government introduced policies to encourage the substitution of highquality cassava flour for wheat flour in bread baking by mandating, in 2015, a 10% cassava flour inclusion.
In order to fully tap the sectors potential, experts have underscored the need of an integrated seed system, a developed cassava processing industry and policies to encourage public-private partnership.