- Manufacturing Firms in Hunt for Cassava Derivatives
Manufacturing firms in the food and beverage sector have increased their demand for cassava derivates to be used as supplement for sugar.
This is even as health concerns mount over the consumption of sugar and artificial sweeteners in food.
The Regional Coordinator, West Africa, InitiatiefDuurzame Handel, Cyril Ugwu, who stated this at a recent stakeholders’ forum, said the demand for cassava derivates would grow to 1.8 million metric tonnes in the next five years.
Ugwu, whose firm’s name is interpreted to mean sustainable trade initiative (a Dutch foundation with the goal of promoting sustainable trade), listed firms who have intensified demand for cassava derivatives to include popular soft drink manufacturers in need of high quality cassava syrup, brewers, food and candy makers, as well as flour mills.
He said, “Many big multinational firms both in and outside Nigeria are asking for cassava starch, flour and syrup. The cassava processors can attest to this fact. The demand is there, so if you can meet their quality specs they will buy from you. Firms told me that high-quality cassava syrup is the best since it is organic.
“The possible derivatives you can get from cassava include cassava chips, animal feeds, high quality cassava flour, bread, biscuit, and snacks among others. Cassava is used as glue for plywood.
“Cassava starch is said to be one of the best. It is used for food and beverages, textile, pharmaceuticals and glucose.”
Ugwu noted that apart from the global demand, opportunities abounded in the ECOWAS sub- regions for suppliers of the product, adding that this had inspired a move by some stakeholders and funding agencies like the Grow Africa Partnership and IDH to develop cassava into an industrial product.
He stated that the two organisations had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to that effect
According to him, stakeholders have decided to focus on developing the value chain in three African countries, namely Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
The regional coordinator noted that about 50 non-governmental organisations and over £130m had been involved in the efforts to unlock the potential in the cassava processing sector and also ensure farmers inclusion in the supply chain of private companies.
For the Nigerian project, Ugwu pointed out that the idea was to bring farmers and other operators in the value chain together under one umbrella in order to gain access to funding and capacity development from international development agencies.
He noted that a 2016 study had revealed that about $800m was needed to develop the value chain to meet the demand across the globe, adding that the African Development Bank had in May 2016 announced that it would partner the Grow Africa IDH to raise a minimum of $50m to support cassava industrialisation in the three African countries.
He said, “We have gone ahead with IDH to set up the Industrial Cassava Association of Nigeria and the Nigerian Agribusiness Group is working with local banks to raise the $50m.
“On the other hand, the IDH is raising $10m to provide technical assistance to processors to make the loan they are going to get from the AfDB profitable, sustainable and repayable.”
He noted that in view of this huge demand, Nigeria needed to step up its cassava production from the current 165,000MT.
While noting that there were opportunities, Ugwu lamented that banks were not willing to lend and buyers were not connecting with the processors for some reasons.