The International Centre for Tropical Agriculture has urged Nigerians to give more priority to cassava production to reduce poverty and enhance food security.
Dr Debisi Araba, the centre’s Regional Director, gave the advice in an interview in Abuja.
Araba said that aside that cassava had advantages over other crops because it grew well in any part of the country and had huge value chain.
“Cassava has higher yields per hectare and it has tolerance to drought, degraded soil and has great flexibility in its planting and harvesting.
“Cassava has grown to become one of the most popular staple food crops in Nigeria, prioritising it therefore, means promoting the commodity’s production to enhance food security, reduce poverty and promote rural development.
“As a source of starch for example, it is highly competitive, the root contains more starch than almost any other food crop, and the starch is easy to extract using simple technologies.
“This can go a long way to create more jobs for the growing population of the country,” he said.
Araba added that the value chain in the commodity’s production and processing were enormous to enhance the country’s economy.
The director urged government at all levels to encourage smallholder farmers in the production of cassava because the country had the capacity to produce it in larger quantity to feed the rest of the world.
He said that if smallholder farmers could place Nigeria as a cassava producing nation in the world, it means that with more innovation or science-oriented programmes, Nigeria would attain a greater height.