Pills, beverages, food seasonings and other items produced with components from cassava, are likely to witness spike in prices. 

This is the submission of Managing Director of Crest Agro, an indigenous cassava processing firm, Tunde Solaja.

He, however, held that the forex restriction on by-products of the abundantly produced tuber will encourage investors to aggressively meet local demand.

He said, “Within three years, it (products made from processed cassava) will increase if there is consistency in the government’s policy. 

“I’ve always had issues with all the bans I’ve heard. Every ban in Nigeria is to create businesses for people.” 

Lydia Oyewole, who works in the Fadama set-up in Kogi State, has a different view from that of Solaja. 

She feels investors in the cassava processing industry are not sufficient and the government should have worked on building an enabling environment before attempting an importation ban.

She said, “We have enough cassava in our country but we don’t have enough industries to turn this raw material into ethanol. 

“We have had cases where we have heard the largest ethanol factory, the largest starch factory is coming to our state — Kogi State. 

“What the Nigerian Government is supposed to give them to establish those factories in the country, they are not giving them their own aspect of the deal.” 

Solaja whose company has been in the country for about three years, said if cassava investors had to wait for the government to provide infrastructure such as power, water and roads before restricting access to the importation of derivatives from the multipurpose tuber, then they might as well wait forever.

He said, “A lot of people are quite discouraged with the corn starch coming from the international market because we can’t compete.

“When you’re producing in Nigeria, you have to do everything yourself – you’re producing your own power, water, building your own road.

“I share the view that infrastructural development should come first but when you look at infrastructural development in Nigeria, it goes beyond the cassava industry. 

“If the government wants to wait to build infrastructure, what it means is that it will never happen.

“I think a ban like this will at least encourage investors to come in, seeing that there is a gap to be filled.”

Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, had on Thursday, in a meeting with some state governors in Abuja disclosed government’s intent to restrict access to forex for the importation of cassava products into the country. 

Nigeria is the world’s largest cassava producer but just like with petroleum, it does not process enough to meet demand. 

Cassava is a multipurpose product that serves the pharmaceutical, petroleum, livestock and food industries. 

Nigeria depends on imported starch and ethanol to meet local demand.

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