Nigeria may become “net importer of staple crops” by 2050 as rising population now threatens cassava industry

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By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan.
The Director Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP 21), Dr Claude Fauquet has alerted that Nigeria’s rising population is now threatening its cassava industry.
Dr Fauquet raised the alarm in Ibadan at a workshop with the theme: “Integrated System for an Effective Cassava Production in Africa” held at the Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
He disclosed that with the present rising population, “the productivity of the crop in Nigeria is low—12-13 tons per ha” and that this could impede the gains made in the sector, putting the country at risk of becoming a net importer of staple crops, saying “this low productivity cannot support Nigeria in the next 34 years,”
“By 2050, Nigeria’s population will rise to 400 million, meaning that we will have more mouths to eat cassava and cassava products such as gari, fufu etc. With the current cassava productivity of 12-13 tons per hectare, cassava cannot sustain this huge population” he said.
Dr Fauquet stressed that Africa, and Nigeria in particular, has the land, youth and climate to achieve the same feat such as Thailand but that “the question is: Why is this not happening?” adding, “elsewhere in Asia, cassava productivity has hit more than 20 tons per ha and a nation such as Thailand is today a major exporter of cassava products such as starch”.
The Director maintained
that “urbanization would trigger the migration of more than 50 percent of Nigeria’s population to cities which would leave a labour vacuum in the rural areas – a situation that would further exacerbate the problem of cassava production in the country”.
To address these challenges, Dr Fauquet asked Nigeria government to invest in the research for development of improved varieties, weed control, best agronomic practices, and mechanization that could change the outlook of cassava.
Speaking, the IITA Director General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga declared that “cassava is an important crop for Nigeria and it was important that researchers were thinking about its future.
Represented by the IITA Deputy Director General, Partnerships for Delivery, Dr Kenton Dashiell, Dr Sanginga lauded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for investing in cassava production along the value chain.
He then urged the Nigeria government to consider upscaling some of the proven technologies such as cassava mechanization, weed management, improved seeds at IITA, and best agronomic practices to farmers across the country.
Dr Alfred Dixon, Project Leader for the Cassava Weed Management Project described cassava as a “poverty fighter,” emphasizing that investment in cassava would help Nigeria to tackle the twin problem of hunger and poverty, and youth unemployment.

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