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In Africa, cassava is gradually being transformed from a famine-reserve commodity and rural food staple to a cash crop for urban consumption. For the cassava transformation to advance to the next stage of livestock feed and industrial raw material, labour-saving production, harvesting and processing technologies are needed to reduce costs, improve productivity and make cassava more competitive. Yet the transformation will not continue unless new uses and new markets are identified to absorb the increase in production.

Nigeria is the world’s largest cassava producer; its cassava transformation is the most advanced in Africa. However, the scope for increasing the use of cassava in Nigeria’s industries is, to a large extent, determined by the development of an efficient and well-integrated production and marketing system, to assure a steady supply of cassava products of stable, high quality standards and appropriate price, and of specific properties required by domestic industries and export markets. Thus, public and private investments in research and development required to develop cassava products for industrial uses, if well targeted, could offer good returns and prospects for the future of cassava in Nigeria.

The belief that a growing demand for cassava will spur rural industrial development and contribute to the economic development of producing, processing and trading communities and well-being of numerous disadvantaged people in the world, has prompted the development of the Global Cassava Development Strategy. The Strategy was endorsed at the International Validation Forum jointly organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) held in Rome, Italy in April 2000. It suggests that industry analysis in cassava-producing countries should be undertaken to indicate current status, strengths, weaknesses and issues for attention and action needed to resolve pressing constraints and take advantage of markets and business opportunities as well as to encompass finding of committed national champions.

The study on "A Cassava Industrial Revolution in Nigeria" coordinated by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is in line with the Global Cassava Strategy. It was prepared as a contribution to the joint effort by IITA and the Federal Government of Nigeria to enhance the Nigerian Cassava Industry. This has been followed-up with similar support from many of the petroleum and crude oil producing companies operating in Nigeria to ensure that this effort is achieved.

As part of the study, a nationwide cassava industry analysis was commissioned to dTp Studies Inc. of Canada to determine the actual and potential size of the market for cassava and cassava based products in Nigeria and to assess what is required in terms of economic, social and physical investments to develop an efficient cassava industrial sector. The study team comprising of agricultural economists from dTp Studies Inc., a local post harvest specialist and an agronomist began work in November 2003 with an extensive search for available data on the Nigerian cassava industry. This involved visits by the study team to all state agricultural development programmes (ADPs), federal offices and key industrial informants. Duplication was minimized by not visiting those industries already visited by previous consultants; instead information from their reports was used.

This report together with the resulting Statistical Handbook forms a pool of information from which private sector investor information can be drawn. It is obvious that in its current form, the information contained in this report may be too detailed to interest large, medium and small scale investors. Condensed reports and pamphlets for industrial application should be gleamed from this report to suit specific end user interests.

It is hoped that the available information will contribute to supporting the potential of cassava to being an engine of industrial revolution in Nigeria and so contribute to the development of action plans for the industry, including the who, what, why and how, plus the question "Whose money should be used to guide investment and research decisions in the cassava subsector?"

Mahmoud B. Sohl
FAO Plant Production and Protection Division

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