How forex restriction on starch boosts cassava production

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The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), says that the recent restriction of forex exchange for the importation of starch by the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) is an incentive to the cassava sector.

George Marechera, the AATF Business Development Manager, said this in Abuja while reacting to the ban.

Marechera, who applauded the decision of the apex bank, said cassava farmers were paid less per ton of cassava in 2019 than what they were paid in 2018.

This year, the price is not very friendly for the farmers, last year around November, farmers were being paid approximately N40,000 per ton and this year, the price went down to N20,000.

That was a deficit for the farmers because at one point, they were getting more than a hundred dollar per ton, then all of a sudden, they were getting 50 dollars.

“But now with this incentive, that will actually encourage more sectors to produce starch-based products,’’ he said.

Marechera, who also heads the AATF Cassava Mechanisation and Agro-Processing Project (CAMAP),  said that the restriction “shall make companies to demand more cassava from farmers.“

When there is high demand, that means more farmers are going to grow more cassava and that will really help in making sure that the economy improves,’’ he said.

Female empowerment

He disclosed that AATF organisation had trained over 30,000 farmers through its CAMAP in Nigeria, adding that over 54,000 hectares of land in the country had been put into mechanised cassava farming.

Two women carrying farm tools walk through a terraced farm in Rwanda.

CAMAP, according to him, is initiated in Nigeria in 2012 based on the realisation of the objectives and aims of cassava industry in Nigeria.

The project was actually earmarked to ensure that there is increased production and lessen drudgery in breeding cassava and making sure that there is enough yield to increase farmers’ wealth,’’ he said.

He said that the project was also to assist in boosting starch, following research and analysis which revealed that cassava was not mechanised in Nigeria and other African countries.

Mechanised agriculture

Marechera, who mentioned Ogun, Oyo, Kwara, Kogi, and Delta among other states where CAMAP is ongoing, expressed confidence that very soon, Abuja would join.

Agridrive came in to provide some of those mechanisation services in a commercial way.

Within the mandate of Agridrive, we also provide not only mechanisation but also all the solutions which include ploughing, harrowing, weeding, herbicide application and harvesting.

“We don’t stop there, we also include irrigation facilities, processing, warehousing and marketing.’’