Nigeria, the world’s biggest producer of cassava, plans to raise the output of the tuber as part of its efforts to diversify its revenue base from oil and increase agricultural production, President Goodluck Jonathan said.
This year, the West African nation will earn $136 million from the export of 1 million metric tons of dried cassava chips to China, the president said in an e-mailed version of his nationwide television broadcast to mark the country’s Democracy Day today. The shrub, which is a source of carbohydrates, is also known as tapioca and its development is one example of the government’s move to diversify the economy away from oil, he said.
“We are now treating agriculture as a business, one that can generate wealth and create jobs for millions of our youths,” Jonathan said. “Our goal is to transform Nigeria from a mono-modal economy, to a diversified one.” The country’s agricultural plan will promote local production and cut down on importing foods, he said.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with at least 160 million people, spends more than $10 billion a year to import wheat, rice, sugar and fish, Jonathan said. “This is unacceptable,” he said.
“Our goal is to add 20 million metric tons of food to our domestic food supply by 2015 and create 3.5 million jobs,” Jonathan said. “To achieve this, the appropriate infrastructure to support all-year round farming through irrigation is being rehabilitated and developed across the country.”
The government is importing and installing 100 new large- scale integrated rice mills across the country to achieve self sufficiency in its production by 2015, he said.
The fourth-biggest producer of cocoa, Nigeria is also distributing 3.6 million pods of high-yielding cocoa varieties to farmers for free, he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Vincent Nwanma in Lagos at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dulue Mbachu at firstname.lastname@example.org