(2) Many of our staple foods like gari, fufu, akpu, lafun, etc are made from cassava, which is why we will never have food shortages in Nigeria. No matter what goes on in the rest of the world, Nigeria will always be able to live off cassava and yam. We also produce all the additives to go along with them like egusi, bitter leaf, spinach, etc
(3) It is estimated that worldwide, about 800m people depend on cassava as a source of staple foods and if Nigeria was marketing this crop well, it would generate at least $5bn a year for the economy
(4) However, all that is about to change now as with the spread of coronavirus, there has been a surge in the demand for hand sanitizers. The most important ingredient in these sanitizers is ethanol, which is generally made for from sugarcane and cassava
(5) Worldwide, there has been a surge in the growth of cassava, with tropical countries boosting production to cash in on this demand. In Zambia for instance, about 150 tonnes of cassava is being converted into ethanol daily to supply this new market
(6) With hand sanitizers certified as being effective and capable of killing 99% of virus and germs, demand can only grow. With ethanol accounting for 70% of the contents of these sanitizers, Nigeria is sitting on a potential gold mine
(7) Given that Nigeria also has the potential to be a major sugarcane producer like India, Brazil, Mexico or Thailand, there is absolutely no reason why we should not be the world’s number one producer and exporter of hand sanitizers
(8) Given that there is no mileage in crude oil production at the moment, I wonder why Nigeria has not stepped up and made the switch. From what I can see, cassava alone can generate $10bn in foreign exchange earnings for Nigeria annually
(9) Now just imagine the income we would generate if Nigeria was processing her cassava into ethanol and then using this to make hand sanitizers. Can you imagine how much we would generate annually if say Nigeria accounted for 20% of global hand sanitizer production?
(10) Hand sanitizers are actually easy to produce and the capital outlay for factories is not that large, compared with say automobile assembly, steel plants or bottling factories. Our problem is we are just finding it hard to get out of our crude oil comfort zone. Nothing stops cassava products from generating the $30 we get from crude oil sales annually but our mindset!