From Linda Asante Agyei, GNA Special Correspondent (Courtesy Nestlé Central and West Africa)
Lagos, – To create value in the cassava industry, Nigeria, the largest producer of cassava in the world would be exporting a total of1.1 million metric tons of cassava chips in the next 12 months.
This will earn Nigeria about US$136 million.
To capitalize on new opportunities to use cassava for modified starch to substitute imported corn starch, Nigeria will also be producing 280,000 metric tons of native modified cassava starch by 2015.
“We are also taking advantage of the rising demand for dried cassava chips in China and few days ago, our first shipment of cassava left the shores of Nigeria to China”.
Dr Akinwunmi Ayo Adesina, Federal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Nigeria, said these at the Regional Creating Shared Value (CSV) Forum here in Lagos, Nigeria, in a speech read for him.
He said Nigeria had succeeded in attracting a private investor, who would be investing six billion dollars in setting up ethanol plants to use cassava and sugar cane as raw materials to produce high fructose syrup that would replace a significant share of the imported sugar used by soft drink and juice industry.
The Forum, the first of its kind under theme: “The Role of Business in Food Security and Nutrition”, was organized by Nestlé in collaboration with the Lagos School of Business, a Pan African University was attended by over 400 participants from 22 countries in West and Central Africa.
The forum formed part of Nestlé’s Creating Shared Value (CSV) approach, under which initiatives are designed to address the company’s business needs while scaling up sustainable investments in Nutrition, Water and Rural Development across the world.
It was attended by high-level multi stakeholder groups, civil society groups, farmer organizations, research groups, governments, the media and the academia, participants will strategize on how the private sector could contribute to food security and boost nutrition outcomes on a sub-continent facing more than its fair share of global socio-economic and health challenges.
The concept of shared value focused on the connections between societal and economic progress and the potential to unleash the next wave of growth in the Central and West African Region.
It was also meant to develop a responsibility and suitable supply which benefited all stakeholders along the value chain from crop to cup.
Delegates discussed concrete actions and options which when explored could spur productivity at farm level and transform the agricultural sector.
They also deliberated on how to harness the potential of food fortification to tackle micronutrient deficiencies, examine the role of agronomy research in arresting food insecurity, and synergize ideas for building capacity in the agricultural value chain.
In Central and West Africa, Nestlé rise up investments in cocoa, coffee, grains and cereals to provide educational infrastructure, water and sanitary facilities to underserved communities, as well as address malnutrition and obesity through initiatives such as the Nestlé Healthy Kids programme and micronutrient fortification of its products.
Dr Adesina noted that though Nigeria was the largest producer of cassava in the world with 34 million metric tons annually, it contributed zero per cent in terms of value added in the global trade.
He explained that the production of cassava could be turned around and expanded its high production of quality cassava flour for use in composite flours to substitute imported wheat flour being used in the baking industry.
“We have demonstrated that in Nigeria cassava flour is a very good substitute for wheat flour in bread making and UTC has led the way in commercializing the inclusion of 20 per cent high quality of cassava flour in bread. Cassava bread is also 60 per cent cheaper, more nutritious and healthier than 100 per cent wheat flour based”, he added.
To ensure that Nigeria has enough high quality of cassava flour and other confectionaries, the government is facilitating the importation and installation of 18 large scale high quality cassava flour plants to be owned and operated by the private sector.
“Government is facilitating the importation of 700 compact mills to be used for milling and missing wheat and cassava flour to bring the production of importation of pre-mixed cassava closer to the communities”.
Mr Martin Woolnough, Managing Director of Nestle Nigeria PLC said to respond to compliment what the government of Nigeria has done, Nestlé Nigeria has finalized protocol for the establishment of more on farm experimental trails on resource use efficiency for farmers.
“Nestlé also provides improved cassava cuttings to networked farmers that would adequately plant 500 hectares of land and has so far distributed 12,180 bundles of improved stems to 203 famers in clusters within the starch processors project states”, he added.