Having been a journalist for more than a quarter of a century, I am fed up with news about wars, famine, destruction, and diseases. That is the reason why I use my blog to write about what I like, not necessarily about the part of Africa where I come from, ( I am a pan-Africanist). For the past 20 years, I have covered, for the BBC, stories from different perspectives, angles, and from every corner of the African continent. About Nigeria: some would expect me to talk about the Islamic group Boko Haram, the displaced people parked in camps, oil and corruption. No, no, no!
I will never fall into complaining about “experts” who use cliches to describe African culture. I will do it as it should be done. I won’t criticize them for writing about things they don’t have a thorough knowledge, I will do it if I believe that I can. I won’t say that you are wrong when you talk about Africa, I will tell the truth and you will get it from there. I wanna be generous and share, hoping that you and me, all together, we can inspire the next generation.
Here I am today to talk about cassava. It is interesting to point out that Nigeria, expected to be the third world most populated country by 2050 has the highest level of cassava production in the world. It is greater than the production levels in Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, and many other countries. The new report from The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) showed that Nigeria produces an estimated 34 million tonnes of Cassava each year. When weighed against yam production which stands at 27 million tonnes, rice at 5 million tonnes, millet at 6 million tonnes and sorghum at 7 million tonnes, cassava production ranks first. The release of the IITA varieties has made this trend to continue to be on the increase for Cassava. Clearly, Nigerians will never die from hunger thanks to Casava production.
Before we go down to the two States that top the chart, It is important to look at this subject based on the various zones. The North Central zone produces about 7 million tonnes of cassava a year, the North West and North East produce 2 and 0.14 million tons, the South West and South East produce less than 6 million tons while the South-South produces over 6 million tonnes a year. On a per capita basis, the North East is the least producing zone, followed by the North West, South West, South South, and South East. The highest producing zone is the North Central area which generates .72 tonnes/per person. It will not be a vast surprise to reveal that the two states that account for this result are Kogi and Benue State.
In order to clear the air, it is vital to reiterate that Kogi was part of the Old Benue State. For the benefit of government and administration, it was carved out as a new State. However, they share certain commonalities when it comes to the production of Cassava. They have been able to generate commensurate levels of Cassava that has been a good source of income for the States. This tells the reason why Benue State is referred to as the Food Basket of the Nation. It is necessary to note that despite the success that has been recorded, the continuous focus has been made to ensure that the production levels keep growing in the future.
The beauty of these States accomplishments has made them not to be overly affected by the plummeting price of Crude Oil. They have been able to sustain the income that the State generates which led the past Federal administration to look for ways to generate ethanol cassava flour and cassava bread which can be exported.
Venuste Nshimiyimana, MA