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We need to have comprehensive approach to developing value chains in cassava production — Ooni of Ife

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From left: Co-founder of Tradebusa, Mondo Eze; Dr. Segun Osifeso; CEO of Greenhills Cassava Farmstead Limited, Lanre Osifeso and others during the launch of Greenhills Cassava Farmstead at Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeoukuta, Ogun State.

…As Greenhills Cassava Farmstead is launched in Abeoukuta

By Etop Ekanem

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, has said the country should have a comprehensive approach to developing the value chains in cassava production and remodel a positive and dynamic market direction.

The Ooni of Ife spoke in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital during the launch of Greenhills Cassava Farmstead Limited at Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library with the theme, “Re-inventing the wheel: using technology for effective farming.”

The monarch, who was represented by his Personal Assistant, Otunba Tomision Olawale, said: “We need to have a comprehensive approach to developing the value chains in our cassava production and remodel a positive and dynamic market direction.”

Earlier in his opening speech, the CEO of Greenhills Cassava Farmstead Limited, Mr. Lanre Osifeso, said: “Five years ago, I got into agriculture and I have been fascinated with the sector ever since. One of my goals as an agropreneur is to promote agriculture particularly among youths and young people like myself. Also, to contribute to Nigeria as a whole by being a cardinal agent towards achievement of food security for all, employment creation, income generation and poverty reduction in the country.

“Some of us may already be aware that cassava is Nigeria’s largest crop in terms of quantity, producing more than 59 million tonnes in 2017 and the second largest in terms of value behind maize.

“Although, Nigeria is the world leading producer of cassava, we recorded a small total export value of $1.25 million, a 0.057 per cent share of the world cassava export, which stood at $2.19 billion in 2017. This is in contrast to Thailand with the highest export value of $1.9 billion despite being the 3rd world leading cassava producers with almost 40 million tonnes in 2017.

“Cassava is a crop that can contribute immensely to food security mainly because of its ability to store its mature edible roots in the ground for about three years. It’s also a drought-tolerant crop and can be grown in areas with uncertain rainfall patterns.

“Most of the cassava harvested in Nigeria is processed into foods. Cassava is very versatile and while there is little processing beyond foods, its derivatives, such as starch and high quality cassava flour, HQCF, are applicable in many types of products such as confectionery, sweeteners, textiles, paper, glue, biodegradable products and drugs.

“There is high potential demand of about 250,000 tons/year for HQCF primarily from 10 per cent replacement in bread flour and for use in bouillon, noodles and adhesive industries. Huge demand for local and modified starch was reported to surpass 230,000 tonnes per year in the food, paint and pharmaceutical industries in Nigeria. In confectionery industries, a growing demand of 150,000 tonnes per year exists in fructose syrup, which is gotten from cassava starch and serves as a means of replacement for growing demand for imported sugar.

“Despite its many uses and like many other crops being grown in Nigeria, its production is dominated by small holder farmers cultivating less than two hectares. They produce and process cassava at a subsistent level, as such their production capacity does not measure up to the demand for cassava in both domestic and foreign markets, where they cannot compete with other cassava exporters in the world.

The GreenHills Cassava Farmstead is a 10,000 hectare but we are starting with 2000 hectares, fully mechanised commercial farm.

“Within the next five years, Greenhills Cassava Farmstead aims to set up five to 10 tons per day high quality cassava starch processing line and 12.5 tons per day of cassava flour processing lines, all strategically positioned on the farm. The first should be finished by January 2022. A total of 10,000 hectares is required to support the processing plant for 300 working days with a targeted yield of 30 tons per hectare. The farm will aim to produce raw cassava tubers (R.C.T) at below N15,000 per ton to be internationally competitive.

“Since the times are changing fast with the advancement of technology, we have decided to take advantage of this by partnering with Tradebuza (an ICT based company) that developed a software that can help with the following features: Monitor and track farm activities; Geo mapping of farm units; Geo mapping of activities’ locations; Off-line feature for areas with low internet connectivity.”

The event was attended by Special Assistant on Agriculture to the Ogun State Governor, Dr. Angel Adelaja-Kuye; Co- Founder, Trade Buza, Nonso Eze; Co-Founder Crowdvest Limited, Mr. Oluwafemi Owoeye and Dr. Femi Osifeso among others.

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