The Cassava Race Against 2024

The Cassava Race Against 2024

The Cassava Race Against 2024

Written by: Kazeem Lamidi.

If we are able to peg the landing cost of Cassava tuber at between N25,000 - N35,000 per ton, it will be profitable for even commercial Garri Processing business not to talk of all other Cassava products with higher profit margin. While this is obtainable or achievable in few processing areas like Oke-Ogun part of Oyo state and many areas in Benue state, the situation is not the same in many other areas across the country.

That is why you see products, especially garri coming into the major selling cities from these areas with raw material advantage having competitive market price advantage. Ogun state grows lot of Cassava and has so many processors of Fufu and garri but cannot in anyway compete with product from Oke-Ogun in Oyo state when it comes to pricing. As a garri or Fufu commercial processor, one is still lucky at this time of the year if he receives cassava tuber at his factory at the rate of N37,000 per ton. Whereas, one can conveniently get same at N25,000 in Oke Ogun at this period. 

It is no longer a news that seasons are coming that this same quantity of Cassava will be traded at N50,000 and above even at the farm gates. That season is from the beginning of 2024 or thereabouts. If you are one of the people who is planning going into Cassava Processing Business very soon, what is your plan for supply especially during the off- season?

Lots of new entrants are coming into Cassava Processing Business, especially at the low end and medium Scale investment categories. In the next 18 months or thereabouts, so many Processing factories that will be handling products like Cassava flour, Cassava chips, Garri, Fufu, Pupuru etc will spring up. This will be a very good development for the economy of our country. But, with the fact that the commencement of their operations will likely coincide with the season of Cassava scarcity, how many of them would be able to survive such level of supply shocks? 

It will be a wise idea for anyone who's planning to commence Cassava Processing Business to make cultivation of Cassava tuber an integral part of his or her plan. Those who experienced the Cassava scarcity of 2020/2021 will understand what I am talking about. It got so bad that we contemplated buying Cassava from Benue state for processing in Ogun state. The experience was worse for Commercial Garri Processors because their operational costs could not accommodate the market price of Cassava tuber at that time. We really suffered. Factories were shut down. That was what led me to Cassava farming.

As an intending Cassava Processor, what is your raw material supply plan? I always advise that you make provision to cultivate between 40 - 50% of your annual Cassava tuber needs. If you have fund to use, you can do even 60-70% in preparation for this scarcity season. You can then scale down in the following years. 

Again, it is important that you should be mindful of your cost of cultivation per hectare so that yield cost per hectare would eventually justify the farming troubles. Experience has shown that manual cultivation of Cassava tuber is not always profitable. One should endeavour to go mechanized if possible.

The Cassava Race Against 2024

Planning for 30 hectares of Cassava farm is not too much for who is venturing into processing of Cassava flour or Cassava Chips. This will just be about 35-40% of your annual requirement if you are planning to input an average of 30 tons on a weekly basis. This is base on an average yield of 17-18 Tons per hectare (my reality so far). But when we look at the cost that would be involved in this, would it not be too much to shoulder this along the factory cost? So, what is your plan? Would you not rather be considering Out-growers plan for about 50% of this?. If you have access to land within the environment of your farm, you may consider shouldering the cost of initial clearing, ploughing and provision of stems. Make arrangement with 4 or 5 Out-growers to take charge of the planting and the rest of the cultivation works including harvesting. And you agree the off-taking price with them after all expenses you made have been factored in.

With this, you will be able to peg your Cassava delivery cost during the scarcity season at N30,000 per Ton or below. I can bet it with you that the farm gate price for Cassava tuber around the time will not be less than N50,000 if you are buying directly from Farmers. It will be more if you are depending on suppliers to bring to your factory. So, is it not wise to begin preparation for this season now?

So many of the commercial Cassava farmers I know do not plant anything this year. Many of them who borrowed money to rush into Cassava farming because of the 2020 rise in Cassava price are presently licking their wounds. Few that planted late last year and early this year are getting more frustrated because of the continous falling price of Cassava tubers. Many more people will again leave the farm comes next year. And there will be little harvest in 2024, which will to scarcity and increase in price.

This is a call to action to my fellow processors. Small, big and super big. It will be unwise of us if we again fall at the mercy of Cassava merchants 100%. No matter how little, let's endeavour to plant our own Cassava tuber to some extent. Do 5 acres if you cannot do 10 or 15 acres. Just make sure you plant something. It will help reduce supply pressure during the time. 

As a matter of fact, that season is the best for Commercial Garri Processors to cash out because Garri price will rise again in the market. Just imagine taking Cassava from your own farm at a landing cost of N30,000 per ton to produce 4 bags of garri that would be sold at between N18,000 - N22,000 per bag during that time. I leave you with the rest of the calculation. Those of us who have shut down our factory, why don't you try again with preparation towards this time.

Preparation for what we are targeting to harvest in 2024 should begin between December this year and January next year. If you planning it big, begin activities on getting your land this time. You can look at 2-3 years lease if you cannot afford to buy farmland outrightly. You have trees to fall. You have stomps to remove. Join with your friends to get up 20 acres so you can plough. Use herbicides as much as possible to reduce cost. Intercrop with maize or beans to argument the cost.

2024 is around the corner. May God Almighty spare our lives. Let's begin to do the needful now!

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