Cassava wars in Nigeria
This is a shocking story. It raises the possibility of an end to our staple food – gari. The Ghanaians are concerned about their local chicken v imported akuko and now we Nigerians face the end of gari – ahaa i no go gree ohhhhh!
Once again folks the hand of our friend the United States of America’s is involved. (Before I start getting comments about being "anti-American" from the
usual suspects let me say I am not. I just find they have too
many hands in to many pots belonging to other people and now upon everything else they want to spoil my soup).
Gari is made from cassava which is in demand
For countries in central and southern Africa, it is used as a major ingredient in the production of animal feed. Cassava is also useful to producers of paper and gum. It is also processed into high quality starch for industrial and pharmaceutical use.
The US Agency for International Development, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and Shell Petroleum Development Company (Shell Nigeria) have signed a joint agreement for $11 million to support the Cassava Enterprise Development Project in the Niger Delta. Two things stand out for me here, the Niger Delta and Shell. The cassava crop produced will be solely for export. So after they have finished taking our oil and giving us nothing in return now they want to take our gari and give us potato to eat.
The estimated financial reward for the export of our cassava is said to be a massive $5billion (one third that of oil) which is fantastic. The big question is who will benefit from this $5 billion – if oil is anything to go by it most certainly will not be small farmers. Enter the big multinational agric businesses or maybe we might get some more imported Rhodesian farmers in exile from Mugabe’s land reforms. Nigerian farmer are already seeing the future
Victor Roberts, a farmer who grows cassava in Lagos State and produces gari for local consumption: “These new initiatives will benefit only the agents, who are few in number. The market has already become closed and these agents only exploit the smaller farmers. Although they offer slightly higher prices, the agents make the real profit without going through the headaches of growing and nurturing the tuber.”
The report states that gari is getting scarce and it is now cheaper to buy gari smuggled from Benin than buy locally – only in Nigeria could such a ridiculous situation occur. Market women are also complaining that gari is being taken to the north or exported leaving little for home consumption. So where will this all end? The war between Nigerian women on the one hand and big multinationals and government on the other. Sounds very familiar.