Pride Ebile wins Elevator Pitch at PLANT 2030

BiomassWeb student Pride Ebile won this year’s elevator pitch at the BMBF status seminar PLANT 2030 with his presentation on “Governance and Institutional Challenges in Biomass-based Value Webs: The case of cassava in Nigeria”. Out of 30 presentations Pride was able to convince the audience as well as the jury. He is a Junior Researcher in WP 6.1 “Governance” at the University of Hohenheim.

Pride Ebile Elevator Pitch PLANT 2030
The audience and members of the jury were convinced: Pride Ebile won the first prize for the best elevator pitch at this years PLANT 2030.

There is considerable potential of biomass-based economic growth in resource rich but economically deprived countries like Nigeria. Yet, not much is known about the opportunities as well as constraints in the full utilization of biomass based value webs, which can be understood as complex systems of interlinked value chains.

Although nowadays Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world,  smallholders do not benefit substantially and the gap between demand and supply is high. The Nigerian Government  launched a Presidential Initiative on cassava in 2002 to boost the cassava industry but it largely failed to meet its objectives.

Cassava is one of the most important crops for smallholder farmers due to its high drought tolerance, its easy management and its high starch content. Currently it is also gaining importance in the chemical and pharmaceutical sector. Cassava, traditionally a “food security crop” is gaining more and more the status of a cash crop. Therefore, it is of special interest to assess how this development can benefit those who have grown cassava since centuries, and how the new “value web” perspective can make use of the maximum potential of the available biomass.

In his research work Pride Ebile focused on the following questions:

  1. What kinds of institutional arrangements and policy frameworks are in place and how are they contributing (or not) to increase cassava productivity?
  2. How are the current institutional arrangements promoting value addition to the raw material and increase the income portfolio of small holders and which governance challenges are faced?

Pride Ebile’s study addresses this question for the case of cassava “value webs” in Nigeria:

The study identified the key actors in the web and analyzed the policy environment for its promotion and development. The data was collected using in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and an innovative participatory mapping method called “Net-Map”. The respondents were key stakeholders in the value web, including farmers, the agricultural ministry, non-governmental organizations, processing industries and agricultural research institutions.

The study indicates that high transactions costs, information asymmetry and an unstable policy environment were the major constraints for the development of a cassava value web that makes effective use of all biomass components.

Major constraints to the boosting of cassava in Nigeria are:

  • lack of extension workers who are key for smallholders;
  • farmers lack awareness about cassava varieties;
  • high costs of transportation and harvesting;
  • high price volatility both in local markets and for industrial supplies;
  • fertilizer subsidy doesn’t help smallholders because of rent seeking;
  • knowledge gaps in terms for the effective utilization of cassava value webs.

The study recommends that the government should:

  • maintain policy consistency for the development of cassava industry;
  • take action to reduce high transaction costs in transportation and peeling;
  • reliable and farmers oriented knowledge dissemination on cassava varieties value addition measures;
  • the policy environment that favors farmers to grow cassava for as cash crop (e.g. contractual arrangements).