The President of Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA), Pastor Segun Adewumi has appealed to the Federal Government to boost cassava production, for the country to get additional N15tr to enhance the economy.
Adewunmi, who made the call at the West African Virus Epidemiology (WAVE) for Root and Tuber Crops First Cassava Stakeholders Workshop, with the theme: "Cassava Virus And Clean Seed," organised by Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, explained that if Federal Government used five million from the country's 84million hectares of arable land, with modern technology, the nation could easily earn additional N15tr from sales of industrial starch alone.
In his keynote address, titled: "Towards The Restoration Of Dignity Of The Black Race: Cassava For Food And Economic Security," he said: "Five million hectares will produce 200 million mt of cassava and if milled into industrial starch we shall have 50 million mt of industrial starch. In Nigeria today, Industrial starch sells for N300, 000.00 per ton and that means N15tr additional income to Nigeria. It can also mean full employment for five million farmers, service providers, skilled and unskilled workers."
Noting that Nigeria is recognised worldwide as the global leader in cassava production, the farmer said the crop is a blessing from God that the country must allow to flourish and benefit from it.
Wondering why the nation continues to expend N700b to import Ethanol and N400b for industrial starch export annually, Adewumi said cassava could produce these items for which the country expend over N2tr in foreign currency.
To kick start-farming revolution in the country, the farmer urged Covenant University to establish 100,000 hectares of cassava farm in 10 locations with a processing factory in each of the locations.
According to him, the farmland could be demarcated into blocks of five hectares and allocated to participants under the supervision of agricultural experts.
Speaking on the focus on cassava by the WAVE project, the team leader, WAVE Nigeria Covenant University Hub, Dr, Angela Eni said cassava is the food security crop for Africa, noting that over 800 million Africans depend on it for food.
Eni revealed that there is a new virus that is ravaging cassava in East and Central Africa known as Cassava Brown Streak Virus that the project wants its elimination from the West African region.