AFAN Blames Cost Of Cassava By-Products On Farmers’ Losses

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The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has blamed the high cost of cassava by-products on the losses which cassava farmers incurred three years ago.
The Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of AFAN, Mr Femi Oke,  made the observation while speaking with newsmen in Lagos, Thursday.
Oke said that farmers invested a lot of resources in cassava farming when the Federal Government introduced the High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) initiative to spur the inclusion of cassava flour in bread production.
He said that in efforts to key into the initiative, farmers had to take loans from commercial banks to produce enough cassava to meet demands.
“We (farmers) were shocked when the flour was not purchased; the debts that consequently accrued discouraged cassava farmers from planting more in the following years.
“For three years, the market for cassava reduced drastically because farmers invested heavily in the cultivation of high-quality cassava varieties after the Federal Government introduced the cassava flour initiative.
“Farmers cultivated a lot of cassava, many of which got wasted; thereby hampering their willingness to plant again in the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
“The debts which farmers had to defray became so enormous to the extent that many farmers had no money to purchase cassava stems for planting in the following years.
“This is what is affecting the availability of cassava by-products because most farmers are no longer cultivating.
“We have never had it so bad because it is only when more people go into cassava production that cassava by-products will become cheaper,” he said.
Oke stressed that it was very ironical that cassava was now regarded as an expensive commodity.
He, however, called on the Federal Government to adequately fund the cassava sub-sector to accommodate new farmers so as to expand and develop cassava production.
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says that Nigeria produces about 50 million tonnes of cassava annually — the highest in the world.