By Abdalla el-Kurebe
October 27, 2017
Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava but the nation’s annual local demand for ethanol is between 300 and 400 million litres. The country only meets up with three percent of total annual demand.
The balance of 97% is presently met through importation, requiring a whooping N160 billion – an expense that must be curtailed. Bridging the importation gap Funded by the United Kingdom Agency for International Development (UKAID), the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) came up with the Cassava Mechanisation and Agro-Processing (CAMAP) project.
This brings cassava cluster farmers as producers and processors, who are up-takers, together. Aimed at encouraging mechanisation thereby growing beyond subsistence, the cassava farmers are provided with farm inputs including fertilisers, insecticides, implement as well as taught best practices, under the project.
According to CAMAP project coordinator, Ayodele David, “A farmer spends 10 days to harvest cassava on a hectare of land while a farmer in India spends less than six hours on the same portion of land under mechanisation.”
He observes that appropriate mechanisation for cassava could support production, processing as well as developing its market along the value-chain. AATF’s Communication and Partnership officer, Abu Umaru said that “CAMAP initially targeted 3.5 million farmers in five years but the project is so accepted by farmers that the number may be surpassed.
“The project connects cassava farmers with industrial users directly at competitive price,” he stressed. David further asserts that CAMAP’s goal “is to enhance technologies to ease the production and processing of cassava by farmers thereby boosting food security, incomes and livelihoods for farmers, processors and marketers of the product.” Umaru said that if traditional planting, harvesting and processing were upgraded, “competitive cassava commodity value-chain and reliable supply of processed cassava food products, including ethanol production, will be assured.”
The Allied Atlantic Distilleries Ltd (AADL) is the first and largest cassava-based ethanol producing plant in Africa and located at Igbesa in Ogun state. It has a 10 million litres installed capacity of ethanol per annum and requires an approximate 240 tons of cassava per day at an average of 10 tons per hour.
Rajasekar Rajavelu, AADL’s director of Agric operations said that CAMAP had facilitated steady daily supply of cassava to meet up with the requirement. “Our partnership with AATF has assisted in having between 60 and 65 percent of cassava from which we produce nine million litres of quality ethanol per annum.