Apr 15, 2009

News: Nigeria planning to export $200 million in yams and cassava ...

FoodBizDaily.com (press release) - Westport,CT,USA
Lagos April 13 2009 (FoodBizDaily) - Nigeria has gone a long way in producing new and improved varieties of root and tuber crops, and the country’s success story in this field may, in all probability, be soon extended to it being elevated to the position of being the number one producer of yams, cocoyams, and cassava in the world through its export of these crops.

At present, the production volume of yams is 32 metric tonnes in a year. Preparations are on in full swing, already, to get on with the exportation of the tuber crop to the European Union (EU). This is expected to fetch foreign exchange earnings to the tune of $200 million.

Dr Kenneth Nwosu, by the Executive Director of the National Root Crop Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike, made the announcement to this effect on the eve of the opening ceremony of the 2009 annual research review and planning workshop of the institute.

The NRCRI would collaborate with the Nasarawa State government and a United Kingdom-based company to make possible and execute the export of yam tubers to the European Union countries, he informed.
“This programme may turn out to be the saving grace in insulating Nigeria from the global economic melt down as close to $200 million trade could be created,” Nwosu stated.

Evaluating the highlights of the accomplishments of the institute, the NRCRI boss said that the institute has “substantially contributed to the national food security and food sufficiency through its agricultural research and extension activities on root and tuber crops.” He stated that the institute has been exceptional in its achievements, as it is highly commendable to note that Nigeria still retains its position as the world’s number one producer of yam, cocoyam, and cassava with an overall annual output of 32, 5 and 45 million metric tons, respectively.

“Technologies developed at the institute have contributed immensely in placing Nigeria at this global level,” Nwosu pointed out; he also added that “with the recent government positive intervention in funding agricultural research, production of these crops are expected to double by the year 2020.”

Mrs. Fidelia Akuabata Njeze, the Minister of State for Agriculture, said in her address that the ministry was “highly pleased” at the country’s position as the number one producer in the world of yam, cassava, and cocoyam, “which is largely due to the aggressive research and extension efforts of this institute.”

It was the deputy director in the ministry, Dr Parry Nyandati, who read out Njeze’s address. In the address, he conveyed his particular interest in the advancement achieved by NRCRI in developing yam and cassava varieties which give high yields and which are resistant to diseases.

Njeze said, “It is a known fact that many of our farmers do not get adequate reward for their efforts because of low yielding disease prone traditional varieties which they are using. Your effort to replace the traditional varieties with high yielding disease resistant ones is therefore commendable.”

FoodBizDaily.com - Staff writer

Bioplastics expected to grow over 125 per cent in South East Asia

plastemart.com - Mumbai,Maharashtra,India

The bioplastics market in Southeast Asia is in its nascent stage and in the preliminary development phase. The large population in this region provides an impetus to producers to explore opportunities here. Producers are encouraged by the huge market potential of the region, which primarily stems from the market's novelty and current low penetration in target applications. The market is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 129.8% in the next 5-7 years until 2015 as per a report by Frost & Sullivan.

Increasing prices of conventional resins leading to increased polymer prices is likely to pave the way for the greater usage of bioplastics globally. Lack of local production as well as the low levels of consumption and public awareness are the major barriers to the greater usage of bioplastics in SE Asia. This is likely to change as more companies set up manufacturing plants in the region. Bioplastics will gain further attraction if market participants can educate consumers of its benefits. At present, bioplastics is perceived as a niche market, beset by cost and performance issues in Southeast Asia. These concerns have to be addressed before market participants progress. Bioplastic companies will have to be aware that consumers here are more cost conscious than their western counterparts, and therefore, may not be willing to pay a premium for the product. However, growing sensitivity to climate changes and a rise in oil prices have worked together to encourage the public, governments and private companies to evoke greater interest in bioplastics. The bioplastics market in this region is likely to find the going good with favorable local government support and initiatives, increasing competitiveness of bioplastics due to increase in oil price and the market recognition of bioplastics as a green product. Although the replacement rates of traditional plastics such as polyethylene (PE) or polystyrene (PS) with bioplastics are likely to be minimal, it will be a huge leap for the novel bioplastics market, and will count as high growth.

Moreover, the efforts of governments, especially those in Thailand, to derive 5% of their plastics from bio-based sources in 2012 have given a huge boost to the market. The governments are also looking to attract domestic and international businesses by introducing an incentive program that includes research funding and favorable tax policies.

With the country's abundant agricultural sector and large lactic acid (LA) manufacturing base, the Thai government is taking steps towards making Thailand a regional bioplastic hub. Although Thailand is currently the Asia Pacific's third largest bioplastic producer, ranked behind Japan and China, a combination of the country's natural resources, infrastructure and government support are expected to push the country's bioplastic industry forward to become a regional hub for bioplastics manufacturing and export. With an annual production of 20 mln tons, Thailand is the world's top exporter of cassava. Thailand has a large manufacturing base for lactic acid, derived from cassava and sugarcane starch which it broken down with enzymes into glucose and fermented to make Lactic acid, and later polymerized and converted into polylactic acid (PLA) resin. The Thai government launched the implementation of a 15-year three-phase strategy in 2006 to encourage the bioplastics sector to become a regional leader in the bioplastic industry by 2021.

The first phase is feasibility, during which imports of bioplastic material are entitled to favourable tariff relief. The second is the development of a local bioplastic industry using imports. Eventually, bioplastics imports should be replaced with locally produced materials from Thailand 's abundant crops of cassava and sugar. This is the third phase of the strategy, aimed at building a competitive global market for Thai bioplastics. Currently, Thai bioplastics have already started to be exported to markets such as the US, European Union and Japan.

Letter of the day: Queries about cassava study

Jamaica Gleaner - Kingston, Jamaica
Published: Tuesday | April 14, 2009

The Editor, Sir:

I would like to express my appreciation for any research that can potentially contribute to the health and well being of our citizens. In particular, our tertiary institutions are duty bound to provide information that is sound, balanced and can stand up to academic scrutiny.

However, I have some general concerns with the conclusions of cassava study as reported by The Gleaner on April 13. The article states that 'samples' taken from four parishes were found to have high levels of cyanide. How were the samples selected? Was it a random process? Were the bammies and undried cassava flour sourced from industrial facilities or directly from individual households/farms (or both)? Were the research findings subject to the peer review process typically required for publication in an academic journal?

In fairness, these questions could possibly be answered by seeing the actual report or publication. However, the article as presented, runs the risk of providing partial information that could lead to a knee-jerk reaction by the public or related government officials.

It is, indeed, important to highlight the risks associated with under-prepared cassava flour. However, overconsumption and underpreparation of a wide variety of foods also have potential health risks. For example, most Jamaicans are all aware of the dangers of eating under-prepared ackee. Others might also be aware that excessive consumption of sorrel drinks can lead to kidney and other problems due to the high oxalic acid content of the plant. Similarly, overconsumption of alcohol, sweet drinks and fatty foods also have a host of associated negative health effects.

Proper food preparation

My main point is, it would have been good if the article had also emphasised the need for proper food preparation and improved monitoring by the Bureau of Standards or some other public health agency. I would also hope that the recommendations as provided by the researchers contained no overt bias, given Northern Caribbean University's involvement in promoting the breadfruit as an alternative source of carbohydrate. Research is important, but in my opinion, 'balanced' research is even more important.

History, the Bible and life in general teach us that moderation in all things is a goal that we should all strive for. Rather than throwing out cassava as an option for the nation's struggle for food security, I would hope that the broader message from such a study would be the promotion of moderate consumption and more emphasis on proper food preparation and production.

I am etc.



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