Price of garri rises 108% as cassava output shrinks

The price of garri, a popular staple food in Nigeria has surged by 108 percent in three months, hitting a record high as cassava production shrinks.

A BusinessDay survey across major markets shows that the average price of a 50kg bag of yellow garri surged by 108 percent from an average of N18,000 in December 2023 to N37,500 in March 2024.

A 4-litre paint container measure of yellow garri now sells for an average of N2,500 as against N1,200 sold in December 2023, while a 50kg bag of white garri sells at N35,000 as against N17,000 sold in December 2023, indicating a 105 percent increase in price.

Nigeria is the largest producer and consumer of cassava in the world and churns out 60.8 million metric tonnes of cassava in 2022, according to data from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

The production of the tubers in 2023, according to farmers, was hampered by climate change impact, worsening insecurity and the uncertainty around last year’s elections

The harmattan season, known for its extreme dryness, has severely impacted cassava cultivation across the country cutting production,” said Nike Tinubu, CEO of Eagleson Cassava.

“The dryness has hardened the ground, making harvesting extremely difficult and more labour-intensive. This not only increases labour costs but also leads to post-harvest losses as some cassava roots break during the strenuous extraction process,” she said.

She noted that this leads to output shortfall and a sharp increase in the price of the tubers.

Segun Adewumi, national president of Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA) said lots of farmers were discouraged from cultivating the tubers last year owing to uncertainty surrounding the 2023 elections.

“The uncertainty and potential disruption during the change in government discouraged farmers from cultivating cassava as extensively as usual. This is what led to the production shortfall,” Adewumi said

Other uses heap pressure on cassava

Cassava, the primary ingredient for garri, is also used to produce various industrial products like starch, ethanol, flour, glucose syrup, and sweeteners among others that are used as raw material by numerous industries with limitless domestic and export market potential.

Flour millers are now blending more volume of high-quality cassava flour into wheat amid acute dollar scarcity and surging input costs, according to experts.

“Millers are using more cassava flour and some industries have sprung up, using cassava, this has further increased the demand for the tubers,” the national president said.

The worsening rate of insecurity has also reduced the output of the tubers as farmers abandoned their farmlands for safety

According to experts, Nigeria has lost about 60 percent of its food production in key-producing states owing to rising insecurity. The situation has led to a production shortfall in most crops in the country.

“There are lots of farmlands that have been abandoned by farmers owing to the escalating insecurity in the country,” AfricanFarmer Mogaji, chief executive officer of X-Ray Consulting.

Also, farmers are not expanding their production areas while some are shifting to the cultivation of other crops owing to some of the challenges in cassava production, Mogaji said.

Cassava requires considerable post-harvest labour because the roots are highly perishable and must be processed into a storable form soon after harvest, he noted.

He stated that owing to the high cost of labour, especially in the Southwest region, lots of farmers are growing less cassava and concentrating more on other crops

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