Mr Duro Kuteyi, a former Chairman of the National Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI), has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to implement an intervention for cassava farmers, towards enhancing food production.
Kuteyi made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.He said that the intervention to enhance cassava production would be similar to the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme on rice production, and should reduce the cost of Garri and other by-products of cassava.
NAN recalls that cassava is one of the targeted agricultural commodities listed under the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).The ABP aims to create an economic linkage between smallholder farmers and reputable large-scale processors, with a view to increasing agricultural output and significantly improving the capacity utilisation of processors.
“The present challenges of farmers leaving cassava cultivation for rice because of the CBN’s intervention on rice would stop, if the CBN kick starts the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme for cassava.
“This would alleviate the hardships faced by Nigerians because of the price of garri that has risen astronomically across the country and also enhance our self-sufficiency in most of the cassava by-products.
“Cassava is an industrial crop, which can boost the production of the industrial sector, create employment and enhance the incomes of small-holder farmers.
“Its cultivation, production and processing could replace oil and generate foreign exchange for the country, if fully harnessed.
“However, checks at most farms showed that cassava is scarce and not readily available for domestic or industrial uses,” Kuteyi said.
According to Kuteyi, government should provide adequate infrastructural facilities and high yield seeds for farmers to encourage bumper production of cassava and increase income for them.
“Research has produced over 50 varieties of cassava that would assist farmers to harvest 40-50 tonnes per hectare, as against the 10 tonnes per hectare which is presently obtainable,” Kuteyi said.
NAN reports that statistics from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) reveals that Nigeria is a leading producer of cassava, with about 40 million metric tonnes yearly.