Nigerian cassava farmers get assured market to mitigate seasonal glut, falling prices

By Godwin Atser

IITA-IBADAN Cassava growers in Nigeria s Niger State have been hooked up to a buyer who will take delivery of the commodity in the next one year on an agreed guaranteed farm gate price, thanks to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture-UPoCA project (IITA-UPoCA). The deal will ease the negative effect of cyclical glut and price fluctuations in cassava production chain, according to IITA-UPoCA.

The buyer, Ekha Agro, represented by Mrs. Oluyemisi Iranloye sealed the deal with the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the farmers on July 14.

The MoU provides that the Niger State Cassava Growers Association will cultivate 5,000 hectares of cassava in 2009/2010 season using improved cassava planting varieties from IITA. Besides, IITA-UPoCA will provide technical support to the farmers while Ekha Agro on the other hand has guaranteed through a purchase order, to buy 200 tons of fresh cassava roots per day for one year at the agreed farm gate price.

Dr. Richardson Okechukwu, Country Project Manager of IITA-UPoCA says the deal is a win-win situation for resource-poor farmers and the firm.

Despite cassava s potential in terms of poverty reduction, resource-poor farmers in sub Saharan Africa face several limitations among which poor market is one. Consequently seasonal glut of cassava has become a recurrent phenomenon and an albatross to increased productivity.

Dr. Sule Garba, Chairman of Niger State Cassava Growers Association and Niger State s Commissioner for Agriculture, Alhaji Jubrin Garba Danwake welcomed the initiative, stressing that the absence of a guaranteed minimum price for cassava had been the major setback in cassava production.

With this arrangement, farmers will go back to cassava cultivation, Garba said.

Apart from providing a guaranteed market, Okechukwu says IITA will work with the farmers to grow the crop in a more competitive way, to reduce cost of production, crop loss, and increase income for participating farmers.

So far, the farmers have secured 200ha from each of the 25 local government areas of the state, acquired 10 out of 40 tractors required, and have identified sources to procure TMS 30572 one of IITA s released variety for the project.

IITA-UPoCA will also during the capacity building activities introduce another 10 new varieties to enable farmers to make choice and diversify.

Meanwhile, the government plans to look into the details of the MoU/Purchase order between Ekha Agro and the farmers to enable them to underwrite a loan facility that will be provided by Bank PHB.