Harvest Feed and Agro Processing Limited (HFAP), has urged the Federal Government to encourage cassava starch producers in the country by stopping the importation of corn starch.
Mr Goke Adeyemi, the chairman of HFAP, said in an interview in Abuja that the move would that would encourage local production and boost industrialisation.
Adeyemi said that government needed to protect local industries that produced cassava starch, and stop those importing corn starch into Nigeria to the detriment of local production.
“The corn starch is going to affect the sell of our product which is not what we desire.
“Nigeria is the leading cassava producer in the world, producing a third more than Brazil and almost double the production capacity of Thailand and Indonesia which is opportunity for us to stop corn starch importation.
“We have enough raw materials to produce edible cassava starch for local use and exportation to earn foreign exchange but government need to help local producers.
“Cassava has the potential to industrialise Nigeria more than any other product if its potentials are properly harnessed; it is a key instrument for job creation and catalyst for development,’’ .
The chairman commended Fadama III AF for its intervention in the agricultural sector and described its partnership with off-takers as wonderful.
“We are into cassava processing into edible starch, we have wonderful relationship with Osun State Fadama, which they cultivated 300 hectares of cassava.
“The Fadama in Osun state are well organised and on top of their games; they supervise their farmers properly and facilitated interface between the off-takers and farmers very well, we have seamless relationship,’’.
Adeyemi, however, urged the Fadama National office to increase the farm sizes allocated to farmers because it was too small to meet off-takers demand.
“Fadama should develop commercial farmers, like those that can go for 10-50 hectares.
“It will help industrious users like us in HFAP rather than just smallholders farmers that are doing less than five hectares.
“Though the farmers that are doing less than five hectares are also good for food market, but Fadama needs more to help both farmers and off-takers,’’ .
Adeyemi added that Fadama should work on getting the farmers more working tools like tractors, harvesters, planters, plough among others rather than depends on hoes and cutlass.
“This is the only way the youth can be interested in the agriculture and get involved fully in farming.
“We can go into partnership with Fadama in this area of agricultural equipment, but not in a short term relationship, it must be a long time relationship like five years, such that we can recap our equipment in a very short time.
“We started with Fadama sometimes last year by off-taking cassava from their farmers and we are able to solve transportation issue by off-taking directly from their farms instead of waiting for them to bring their produce to us.
Adeyemi added that “the challenges we encounter sometime is that of price issue; cassava price has started dropping from what we signed with them.
“Even though we agreed on a certain amount but the price we agreed to pay was too high compared to present market price, we had to do some negotiation again.”
He added that the company was also involved with cassava farmers in Ogun.
“We provided inputs to the farmers and they do the farming and after a year, we buy from them and deduct whatever we had spent on them.
“My challenge is that our farmers still need enough education because there is a lot of side selling.
Adeyemi said that the company is planning to go into farm ownership which they would allow farmers to cultivate under an agreement.
According to him, the new approach would give the company more control on output.