Nigeria could earn billions in foreign currency from its 47 million tonnes of cassava tubers produced annually, a university don, Prof. Aloy Ezirim has said.
Ezirim, a lecturer in the Faculty of Management Sciences, University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Port Harcourt on Friday. Ezirim said that Nigeria rather than producing cassava for food consumption alone should produce it for both industrial purpose and for consumption.
"Diversification of the nation's economy can take the country to the Promised Land, and this can be achieved by producing cassava for industrialised purposes, which is presently in global demand.
"Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava tubers in the world but cassava produced in the country is processed and consumed locally in various forms with little set aside for export. "Today, cassava has over 2,000 uses in the world that can easily replace or support crude oil as a foreign exchange earner and provide employment for many, if well harnessed.
"Government cannot leave cassava production in the hands of individuals, rather it should intervene by considering cassava as a national crop and accord it priority attention given to crude oil," he said.
Ezirim said that cassava could be used as biofuel as well as used to produce livestock feeds; ethno-medicine; cassava flour; cassava starch and cassava wine and oil, among others. According to him, the crop can also be used to produce alcohol and syrup, which is in high demand by food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. The don urged farmers to equip themselves with modern researches and development techniques that would enable them expand production and export harvest.
NAN reports that Nigeria is one of the largest producer of cassava in the world followed by Thailand, Indonesia and Brazil, Angola, Ghana and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Nigeria produces almost a third more than the volume of cassava produced in other African countries, including Malawi, Cameroon, Mozambique, Benin, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, Uganda and Rwanda.