Mr Goke Adeyemi, the Chairman, Harvest Feeds and Agro Processing Limited has urged the Federal Government to ban the importation of industrial starch to promote local producers.
Adeyemi said that there was a massive market for starch in Nigeria, but lamented that imported starch had affected the growth of the sub-sector.
According to him, the sub-sector has the capacity to contribute meaningfully to cassava value chain and the economy at large.
Starch is a white powdery substance extracted from tubers, and cereals widely used in the food industry, as well as to stiffen fabrics and to make papers, among others.
According to him, many starch processors are unable to break even because the several tonnes of starch in their warehouses have no market.
“There is urgent need to check the importation in view of the government economic recovery plan.
“Even if the government cannot completely ban imported starch, the government should create a level playing ground such that local producers can compete with the importers,” he said.
He said that the Nigerian market had been flooded with all sorts of starch, alleging that some of them were even of lower quality to that produced in Nigeria.
Adeyemi noted that since the country was one of the highest cassava producers, which also consumed a lot of it, there was the need to utilise its comparative advantage.
He urged farmers to discard smallholder farming and take advantage of government’s various agricultural schemes to improve yields
According to him, most farmers still engage in manual farming, adding that this had resulted in low harvest and inadequate raw materials for cassava processing factories in the country.
“Another issue is that we have too many smallholder farmers, who have just one to two hectares of farms, which are located far from our factories
“We need to have complete commercialisation of starch as a product. We need to have more than 1000 hectares of cassava farms in a 20-kilometre radius of a factory.
“This means one does not have to go far to get cassava for processing,” he added.