Prices of cassava stems have nosedived to N400 per bundle after touching a high of N1200 as demand eases in Nigeria.
Last year and earlier in 2017, prices of cassava roots and its derivatives such as garri climbed to an all-time high as demand outstripped supply. Researchers are still expecting data on demand and supply from the National Bureau of Statistics, but cassava roots moved from N13,000 per ton to about N40,000, according to local buyers.
Cassava is an important crop in Nigeria and the roots are processed to starch, ethanol, flour and garri—a staple. Other uses include akpu, and lafun. In some communities, the root is boiled and eaten directly.
In 2014, about seven million hectares was planted with cassava, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Most of the varieties planted to cover this hectarage were from the informal sector, says Peter Kulakow, Cassava Breeder with IITA who is also working on the cassava seed systems project.
The Nigerian cassava seed system is not well structured, an arrangement that the project—Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Seed System for Cassava (BASICS) – is trying to correct.
Farmers usually obtain planting materials from previous field, cut them in lengths of about a meter and tie them into bundles comprising 50 stems each and sell.
Certification from regulators is still rare but the Nigerian Agricultural Seed Council is working with BASICS to set standards and begin the certification of cassava planting materials.