FILE PHOTO: Cassava

An Agric expert, Dr. Paul Ilona, says farmers can make more revenue from the sale of cassava stem if properly cultivated and harnessed.

Ilona, Country Manager of HarvestPlus Nigeria, on Thursday in Lagos said that cassava stem business in Nigeria was estimated at over N20 billion annually.

According to Ilona, since the country currently cultivates an average of seven million hectares of cassava, there is still room for expansion to end the importation of cassava and its byproducts.

“In Nigeria, a hectare of cassava farm requires a bundle of 60 cassava stems to cultivate and when multiplied by seven million hectares of cassava farm annually, that gives us 420 million bundles.

“A bundle of 60 stems of one meter-long each currently sells at N500. Since we plant seven million hectares for cassava annually, in monetary terms, 420 million bundles multiplied by N500, which translates to N20 billion annually.

“The cassava sector is a very profitable sector, from the stem, to the tuber and to the processed food, even to those who distribute the products.

“There is the need for farmers to make more revenue from the stem if properly cultivated and harnessed,” Ilona said.

He said that some investors had become major aggregators in the cassava seed sector (stem)and urged more farmers to look into it to enhance their revenue.

According to him, cassava stem business is a lot more advanced in the south-eastern and south-southern states of the country because they had problems with the availability of fertile land.

He urged other zones to key into it because the cassava stem sector was a multi-billion naira sector.

The country-manager announced that the 5th Nutritious Food Fair (NFF) scheduled for Nov. 13 to 15 in Ibadan, would, among others, discuss the issue with stakeholders at the event.

He said that this year’s theme is: Nutrition is Everyone’s Business.

Ilona said that the official unveiling of the Smart Mother Initiative would also take place at the event to ensure a paradigm shift in culture-driven food to nutrition-focused food.

According to Ilona, the fair will create over 3,000 jobs going by the feedback and activities from previous fairs.

HarvestPlus Nigeria promotes cassava and maize that provides more vitamin A in the diet.

The firm works with over 60 partners drawn from government, business, and civil society.

It also supports the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) to breed, test, and release vitamin A cassava developed through a partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

Cassava is one of the most widely consumed food staples in Nigeria.