Cassava: Hike in Price Continues As Supply Depletes

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“Many farmers boycotted cassava cultivation in 2020, and this development could lead to scarcity of the produce. The reason for the boycott was due to the huge losses recorded in 2019 by many farmers as a result of glut”.

This alarm was raised mid last year by the Secretary of the Lagos State Chapter of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Abimbola Fagoyinbo-Francis, following a revelation that many farmers boycotted cassava cultivation in 2020.

Just as predicted, cassava has now become a goldmine, as its price increases on daily basis, despite the country’s position in the comity of cassava producing countries.

Nigeria is the largest cassava producer globally, accounting for about one-fifth (21 per cent) of total production worldwide. The demand for cassava and its constituents is high in the domestic economy. However, the supply has been unable to meet the huge demand.

According to PwC, it is estimated that Nigeria would need about 28.3 million metric tonnes of fresh cassava root planted yearly on about 1.2 million hectares of land to meet the country’s demand for some of the cassava by-products and derivatives like ethanol, cassava-based constituents in sugar syrup, high-quality cassava flour, cassava-based adhesives such as cassava starch, caustic soda, formaldehyde, hydrochloric acid and sodium silicate.

It was learnt that from the total output of 59.5 million metric tonnes of cassava produced in the country based on 2018 estimates, Nigeria has the economic potential to generate revenues of $427.3m from domestic value-addition and derive income of $2.98b in agricultural exports of cassava. Furthermore, the local value-addition to cassava via local manufacturing and processing could potentially unlock about $16m in taxes to the government.

Currently, a ton of cassava previously sold for N15, 000 is now between N57, 000 and N80, 000, depending on the cassava type and the market.

Due to this development, the by-products of cassava, especially garri — the most widely traded cassava product, cassava flour, fufu and starch, among others have become scarce and expensive.

For instance, in major markets in Lagos, a paint plastic module of garri, initially sold for N350 is currently selling for between N1, 350 and N1, 500. A survey of Mile 12 market, Agege and Ile-Epo showed that the wholesale price of the same module, initially sold for N400 and N450 is now N1, 300.

In Ogun State, the same module sold at the rate of N300 to N350 at Ifo market, Arigbajo, Wasimi, Lafenwa, Sango, Panseke and other popular markets in the state is now selling as high as N1, 200 to N1, 300.

It was learnt that a paint plastic module of cassava flour previously sold for N300 is now N1, 200, while fufu has become very scarce.

The Baale of farmers in Imeko land, Ogun State, Chief Abdulazeez Ismail Adedayo told The Guardian that a ton of cassava, previously sold for N10, 000 in the state, is now N65, 000. “A sack of cassava is now between N21, 000 to N22, 000 from between N3, 500 to N5, 000 and a basket of cassava previously sold for N1, 000 now between N5, 000 and N6, 000.

“The issue of COVID-19 lockdown contributed immensely to this, as it hampers movement of farmers during the period. Despite being members of essential workers, only a fraction of the farmers were bold enough to go out, this actually negatively impacted planting of crops. Aside from that, even the climate change issue, especially paucity of rainfall, which destroyed crops affected farmers.

“We have started experiencing a similar situation this year again. Currently, the cassava and maize planted during this planting season have been destroyed. The only solution to this is to embrace irrigation farming. Even the activities of the herders contributed to this problem. Cassava prices will continue to rise as demand rises. Those selling garri, fufu and cassava flour can hardly get cassava from the farms,” he said.

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