How to build a multi-million-naira cassava processing venture in Nigeria
Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world. Its production is currently put at about 34 million metric tonnes a year (FAO, 2002). The total area harvested of the crop in 2001 was 3.125 million ha with an average yield of 10.83 tonnes per ha. Presently, cassava is primarily produced for food especially in the form of gari, lafun, and fufu with little or no use in the agribusiness sector as an industrial raw material. But the crop can be processed into several secondary products of industrial market value. These products include chips, pellets, flour, adhesives, alcohol, and starch, which are vital raw materials in the livestock, feed, alcohol/ethanol, textile, confectionery, wood, food, and soft drinks industries. They are also tradable in the international market.
Cassava, like almost every other crop in Nigerian agriculture, is dominated by smallholder farmers, who are responsible for 90 percent of its production, and most Nigerian cassava is produced across the country’s southern and central regions. In these regions and the rest of the country, cassava is a central part of life, accounting for 40-50 percent of all consumed calories. Production in all of these states and Nigeria as a whole has boomed over the past decade. The country went from harvesting 36 million tonnes of the tuber in 2003 to 53 million in 2013, a 47 percent increase. Growth was driven by a substantial increase in yields—which jumped by 44 percent over this period.
In Nigeria, cassava production is well-developed as an organized agricultural crop. It has well-established multiplication and processing techniques for food products and cattle feed. There are more than 40 cassava varieties in use. Apart from its variety of use which explains its high demand in the market, perhaps another very good information to note about cassava which explains the reason for its lucrativeness is the fact that it is grown throughout the year, making it preferable to the likes of yam, beans, peas, and other farm products which are seasonal. Cassava displays an exceptional ability to adapt to climate change, with a tolerance to low soil fertility, resistance to drought conditions, pests and diseases, and suitability to store its roots for long periods underground even after they mature. The use of fertilizers is limited, and it is also grown on fallow lands. Harvesting cassava after planting usually varies from anywhere between 6 months to 3 years, depending on the species adopted.
All of the aforementioned points about cassava alludes to the fact that going into cassava farming and agro-processing can be very lucrative and profitable. So the question is, how exactly do we build a multi-million-naira cassava processing venture in Nigeria? The following are some guides for you.
- Do your personal research and feasibility study
Most of the information I have presented so far in this article about the viability of investments in cassava farming and processing are all results of researches that have been done by many individuals and organizations. In essence, the data available for you to research and make your own informed decision are enormous, and the facts are well established and adequately organized in most cases. In other to solidify your personal conviction about this business, you will need to do your personal study. A business you are planning to invest millions into is a business that must be well understood by yourself as an investor and there must be no area that is dark or cloudy as far as your understanding of the entire process is concerned.
- Take advantage of the massive market opportunities and act quickly
As much as studying a prospective investment opportunity is crucial, the study shouldn’t take forever. There comes a time when you put your leg on the road and start working things out in shoe leather. Cassava is very loved by Nigerians – it is one of the most favorite foods of the local people, which they consume in great amounts and use basically for everything. The market for this food is huge, and it is constantly growing and expanding not only in Nigeria but in the other countries of Africa. If you are interested in farming and would like to do something that other people would love and purchase, then it is possible that farming cassava is just for you. And if you have come this far in the journey, the best thing to do won’t be sleeping over the idea or procrastinate, but you want to dive right in and make it happen. You don’t want to have to face the pain of seeing someone making billions of Naira and shinning with an idea you have worked so much upon but dropped along the way due to carelessness or loss of interest.
- Draw out a business plan
Many times, in business, excitement alone doesn’t get you to go very far. Many people fail in business because they allow their emotions to overrun their reasons and basic intelligence. Planning
is everything; failure to plan is planning to fail. Do not fail, plan! No matter how lucrative a business is, or how optimistic or excited you are about it, without proper planning, you can still fail woefully having invested so much without planning.
- Seek funding and partners
There are many good loans for entrepreneurs in the field of agriculture today which any serious and well-determined person can take advantage of. All you need to do is to be able to prove the viability of the investment you need the funding for – and that is what a business plan should have helped you to achieve. Also, one of the important purposes of a business plan is to make access to funding very easy. Furthermore, you must keep in mind that most things of lasting worth that have been built in this world weren’t built by one person, so be big enough inside to seek the help of others wherever you feel a need to do so. The mentality that you want the whole thing to be all about you might be a huge mistake for an investment that will run into millions of Naira.
- Plan to do it big time
Remember that our focus is on how to build a multi-million-naira cassava processing venture – and in reaching for millions, volume counts. You possibly can’t expect your business to operate in millions if your investment is not in millions as well. So, if you want to make millions from the business and your individual capacity is limited, then the advice given in number 4 above will be very critical for you.
- Farmland selection and preparation
Choose an accessible well-drained fertile soil where you can grow your cassava without any problem. The research carried out earlier should have helped you make the right choice in this regard.
- Work with agribusiness professionals and consultants
This cannot be over-emphasized. If you are not primarily a trained agric person, it stands to reason to work with professionals, considering the fact that this is a big venture. There are two things this will do for you. One, it will help you prevent trial and error which leads to losses, and two, your success can be rapid and accelerated.
Finally, the next three steps that are important will be to ensure you get insurance for your farming business, give the public the opportunity to invest, and figure out a formidable marketing and sales plan.
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