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Monday, April 4, 2016

UN offers 420m/- for cassava processing plant


The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) has pledged 420m/- to improve a cassava processing factory run by the Frederic and Jocelyne Scheer African Starch Development Company Limited (FJS) in Bungu Village in Tanzania’s western region.
 
FJS is a US-based foundation that promotes creative projects to generate sustainable employment in Tanzania.
 
The funds will be used as working capital and for new machinery aimed at raising cassava-flour production to sustain food security, create jobs, steady farmers’ revenue and improve their livelihoods. 
 
According to FJS, one of the main obstacles cassava farmers are faced with is selling their crops to generate steady revenue since they are capable of improving their own productivity and raise the crop’s output, but face challenges of finding markets to sell the product due to poor road infrastructure from the harvesting areas. Therefore, attractive markets such as Dar es Salaam where 250 tonnes of cassava are sold daily cannot be a target market for cassava farmers since the long trajectory from Bungu Village is costly due to poor roads infrastructure and the lack of refrigeration, making it difficult to transport fresh food.
 
The UNCDF head of country, Peter Malika, explained that with the new investment, the cassava starch and flour plant will be able to produce approximately one tonne of cassava flour a day that are meant to cover local and international demand.
 
“The factory aims at empowering local cassava farmers whom, thanks to the cassava flour, will be able to access more profitable markets for their products,” Malika added. 
 
According to FJS, cassava farmers are only able to distribute their crops within a 30 miles radius area due to absence of refrigeration. However, with cassava flour they will be able to deliver their products beyond Tanzania. Cassava produce is a USD2.86 bn industry which accounts for 2.1 per cent in African and exports to the global market.
 
Tanzania ranks 8th in Africa in cassava production worth USD 369,000 which is equivalent to 0.63 per cent of the total exported produce from Africa with Ghana topping the list by exporting a total of USD 33.9 million worth of the crop, which is equivalent to 58 per cent. 
 
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), cassava consumption demand growth is estimated at an average of 3.4 per cent. The crop is cultivated in many regions of Tanzania such as Mwanza, Mtwara, Lindi, Shinyanga, Tanga, Ruvuma, Mara, Kigoma, and Coast. Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa, covering an area of 940,000 km2, 60,000 of which is inland water.  In Coast Region, cassava is one of the main food crops. It is estimated that the annual production of fresh cassava is seven million metric tonnes. In sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia cassava is staple food and is eaten by over seven hundred million people. Cassava flour can also be used to make biscuits, cake, bread and other products. Cassava has potential for industrial use in production of starch and bio fuel.
 
The leaves are also used for food in many communities in Africa, including Tanzania. The crop is an important subsistence food, especially in the semi-arid areas and is sometimes considered as a famine reserve when cereals fail, due to its drought tolerance. 
 
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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