A 19-person delegation comprising processors and stakeholders from the cassava sector of Liberia have returned home after completing a one-week cassava study tour of Nigeria.
The visit afforded them the opportunity to learn about Nigeria’s cassava sector success stories, the challenges involved and the ways to improve the cassava business to ensure sustainability in job creation and the improvement of food security.
The tour was the second of its kind sponsored by the Liberia Agribusiness Development Activity (LADA). In November 2016, LADA sponsored a similar study tour in rice industrialization and commercialization in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA).
The cassava study tour was supported by the Smallholder Agricultural Productivity Enhancement and Commercialization (SAPEC), a MOA project, sponsored by the African Development Bank and the World Bank.
Cassava is a major crop cultivated by both small and large scale farmers in Liberia.
Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world and has taken major steps to industrialize and commercialize cassava production. Nigeria produces over 19% of the world production followed by Brazil, Thailand, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
While in Nigeria the Liberian delegation visited a number of important institutions including FIIRO-Industrial Research Institute in Lagos, responsible for research on cassava utilization and processing; Psaltery International (Ado-Awaiye); Starch Factory and Eagleson Cassava (Iseyin, Oyo State), producer of high quality cassava flour, cassava starch, and gari.
Another major establishment toured by the delegation was the Niji Lucas Enterprise (Ilero, Oyo State), producer of fabricated farming machineries, starch and high quality cassava flour. This enterprise also has a cassava plantation of over 4,000 acres. The team also visited the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), a cassava research venture, to assess the different technologies available, and several food laboratories and cassava businesses in Lagos.
The Liberia Agricultural Transformation Agenda (LATA) foresees that cassava will improve the livelihoods of rural people and boost the economy.
“The cassava study tour was a great experience for us as processors. It gave us the opportunity to see how our country can use mechanized equipment to produce more cassava to sell on the market. We lack the capacity to produce more cassava as the production of the crop is still being done manually. Now that the government and international partners are working to procure modern equipment that will boost production, we are getting ready for the market,” said Angie Howard, proprietor of Falama Incorporated.
Madam Howard stated that for Liberia to become successful in the cassava industry, the government must also introduce a policy that will enhance the production and processing of cassava.
“We need a regulation that will require that every bread flour or bread produced in Liberia must contain 10 percent cassava to ensure increased market opportunity for both farmers and processors,” she stated.
For her part, Gertrude Cooper of the New Generational Women Farmers in Clay Ashland, Montserrado County said: “We are very thankful to the government and LADA for affording us the opportunity to travel to Nigeria and experience how our country can boost cassava production to create jobs and end hunger.”