NRCRI suggests diversification of cassava produce
National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), has proposed product diversification as a remedy to retain Nigeria’s position as one of the world’s leading producers of cassava.
Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Institute, Prof. Ukpabi Joseph Ukpabi made the suggestion during an interview with AgroNigeria at the National Stakeholders Workshop on the prevention of cassava brown streak disease in Nigeria, organised by West African Virus Epidemiology (WAVE) recently in Abuja.
Prof. Ukpabi stressed the need to diversify the uses of cassava in the country to serve other purposes other than food consumption.
According to him,“Product Diversification is the key. We need to diversify the use of cassava as 30% of our cassava is being consumed as human food but if you go to some countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, majority of their cassava are exported to Europe. We need to know how to diversify the market because of international policies.”
The CEO noted that the lifting of the ban on exporting cassava would be beneficial to the country, while maintaining that the momentum can only be built if the produce is being utilised both for food, livestock, and industrial purposes.
He also admonished that farmers should ensure the quality of their products because international trade requires certain precautions and standards.
On the varieties of cassava, Prof. Ukpabi added that the leaves would also be utilised and exported to China to generate more income for the farmers and subsequently improve the economy of the nation.
He further stated that any country that possesses the wealth of cassava can never face famine, while also highlighting the need to prevent viruses and diseases from crippling the cassava value chain.
“If there is excess rainfall, drought or starvation, famine comes in. Because cassava is a hardened crop, it can withstand some harsh condition so based on that, we take cassava very serious. By our local tradition, we consider yam as the king of all crops but when it comes to cassava, we overlook the kingship and look at the one that is sustainable in terms of food security in Nigeria which brings me to WAVE.”
“Due to the problem of viruses wiping out our cassava crops, anything that will affect the crop will affect Nigeria and because we have that mandate to research into cassava, we are willing to collaborate with international agencies like IITA, universities, state governments, farmers, food processors and extension organisations to make sure that we have food security and generation of income for farmers, processors and even the marketers.”He explained.
While commending the organisers of the event, Prof. Ukpabi noted that WAVE is not limited to Nigeria or West Africa alone, but also stretches across Africa.