The Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA) has revealed that the extraction of ethanol and other products from cassava for importation can generate over N10 trillion for the country if a proper framework is put in place.
This was said by Segun Adewunmi, national president (NCGA) at the on going cassava Agric expo in Abuja.
Adewunmi said that with the 100,000 hectares of arable lands currently producing 400 million litres of ethanol in the country, an additional 84 million hectares are lying low which can be utilized.
He added that for this to be achieved, a more serious approach should be focused on the commodity’s value chain to end to the three-year circle of the glut in the cassava market, adding that the country must ensure regular, adequate, affordable and all year round supply of cassava to the processing factories in the country.
Adewunmi said, “This is to say Nigeria can reduce her import bill on the listed product by N12 trillion. At the same time, we can earn several trillions of naira in foreign exchange from cassava products.”
This could be a huge economic benefit for Nigeria economy if the government taps into the goldmine of ethanol production from cassava by exporting it to countries that use it as mechanical fuel to run their cars.
However, the United States (U.S.) is the world largest user of ethanol with production and usage capacity of 52.6 billion litres in 2011, Brazil, also is a notable user of the commodity with 21.1 billion litres.
A concerted effort is hereby required from the government and agro-allied agencies to adopt the product of ethanol to save the country from the current economic woes.
Also, Adewunmi added that N10 trillion can be realized annually and could ramp up the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) of $397,270 million (N143,215 billion).
Furthermore, starch, an essential commodity derived from cassava is widely used and more preferred than corn starch in most pharmaceutical industries across the globe, Adewunmi hinted that about 1.7 metric tonnes of cassava starch can generate N340 billion for the country.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world and the commodity’s value chain is still untapped.
Despite the abundance of the commodity in the country, derived products from cassava are still being imported into the country, Adewunmi revealed that about N1.2 trillion annually is spent on importation of these products adding that if there is mass production of the tuber crop, N10 trillion can be generated for the country.
He said, “Nigeria is the only country that is left behind in the practice of modern agriculture, food is produced more cheaply even in neighbouring countries than in Nigeria.”