Agriculture the New Gold Mine, It is no more news that countries that rely on liquid and some solid mineral resources as their sources of revenue are hard hit by global headwinds.
Oil, which used to be the darling of the international business community, has now become a pariah. The price of crude has had over 400 percent pratfall in the last 20 months, putting Nigeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan on their toes.
South Africa, which used to see metals, gold and diamond as perpetual money spinners, now run the risk of going into recession. Global prices of these items are declining fast, and China is no more buying as much as it was doing. Over 50,000 South Africans working in mining sites are about to be pushed into the labor market, with attendant negative social, economic and political consequences.
Amid these crises is an opportunity for Africa to recreate itself in agriculture and agro-allied industries. Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava. But Thailand is now the largest exporting country of dried cassava, with a total of 77 percent of world export. Cassava remains one of the biggest gifts handed down to Nigeria as it is capable of bringing in foreign exchange amid currency and economy crises facing the country.
The crop can be processed into 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 trad-able in the international market, according to the FAO.
However, big multinationals still look outside Nigeria to get starch, while no effort has been made to steer the cassava beer revolution in the country, despite consumers calling for this. Africa grows different fruits that can be processed into juices. From South Africa to Nigeria, down to Ghana and Liberia, there are fruits such as guava, orange, mango , among others, which can earn some foreign exchange with little addition.
Sadly most fruit juice companies rely on concentrates from Asia and other parts of the world. Nigeria alone imports $140 million orange concentrates, according to data.
It is good news that companies such as Farm Pride and Niyya Farms have stepped forward to set a standard of producing 100% natural juice and yogurt with fruits and products cultivated and harvested in Nigeria. Harnessing the agricultural potential in Nigeria and producing top quality fruit juices.