The East Africa Cassava Value Chain- Wide Profitability Forum was held on Wednesday, September 21st 2016 at FCI Africa Regional Office. The interactive forum was a critical learning phase of a regional programme on Cassava Commercialization and Processing funded by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and implemented by Farm Concern International. 

 

The forum brought together local, regional and international private sector partners, Smallholders farmers, Commercial Village representatives, Processors, Research Organizations, Government representatives, Donor Organizations, Development Organizations for strategic Scale up of opportunities in Cassava value chain. 

Farm Concern International shared the gains made during the six years (2010-2016) of working with cassava and sweet potato smallholders in Kenya and Tanzania. The project has benefited 173,542 smallholder farmers in 417 commercial villages in Busia, Makueni, Kilifi, Mtwapa, Mwala and Homabay in Kenya and Meru and Kibaha sites in Tanzania. The project goal was to increase smallholder farmers’ productivity and market access for cassava and sweet potato in Kenya and Tanzania. 

The programme strengthened the capacity and efficiency of farmer organizations to inclusively produce cassava and sweet potato, and market collectively through commercial villages. The programme also promoted use of agronomic best practices and quality inputs for increased market-led production.

 

The East African Cassava Value Chain- Wide Profitability Forum held on September 21st 2016 at FCI Africa Office being addressed by Anne Mbaabu, Market Access Director, AGRA (pictured).

 

The emerging statistical evidence resulting from the project intervention was breath taking with the small holder farmers having made cumulative sales worth USD 203,759,016 and savings estimated at USD 16,064,653. Speaking during the symposium, Mumbi Kimathi- the FCI Strategy and Innovations Director noted that commercialization requires partnership for maximum impact thus the need for strategic collaborations of all players in the cassava value chain. “Cassava is the raw material solution for industrial use as a maize substitute thus more efforts need to be made to support the value chain,” remarked Madam Mumbi. She noted that Youth are interested in cassava processing and marketing and not production hence the need for a vibrant village economy to be able to support them in achieving their dreams.

Over the implementation period, FCI has collected enormous information on cassava and other value chains in the implementation regions that has shown various trends and unearthed interesting phenomenon that give insight into the decision making dynamics employed by farmers. Crop production is driven by various visible and invisible costs which farmers incur thus quantification of these cost drivers is key in determining profitability and understanding the points of intervention. Research has shown that seed accounts for the largest portion of cost in root production; this indicates the need to continually support access to clean, improved planting materials for profitable cassava production. Driven by these statistics, FCI has identified and capacity build 391 cassava seed entrepreneurs across the different sites of intervention. 

“Involvement of village level seed entrepreneurs is the best approach to ensure farmers access clean planting materials with ease at a fair cost,” noted Mr. Harold Mate, FCI Senior Technical Specialist Agri-Value Chains and Markets

Gross margin analysis has shown net revenue from cassava to be higher compared to green grams and cowpeas across the region where FCI has been implementing the programme. The net revenue from cassava at market gate is Ksh. 418,000 per Hectare compared to Ksh. 69,225 for green grams and Ksh. 29,690 for cowpeas in the Coastal region of Kenya.

Buyers lamented of the low cassava volumes produced by farmers in East Africa hence unable to meet their demand. They also noted that farmers have a challenge in accessing clean and disease free planting materials which results in production of high fibre and low starch content cassava.

Prof. Jasper Imungi from the Department of Food, Science, Nutrition and Technology, University of Nairobi noted that the cassava business has to be sustainable by ensuring that there is enough and continuous supply of cassava to processors throughout the year. 

The Forum highlighted the opportunities for scale up in the cassava value chain including mechanization to support cassava commercialization and processing, establishment of village level seed entrepreneurs for continuous supply of improved and clean planting materials, establishment of Research and Training Centres of excellence, development of curriculum for the R&TCs, lobbying National Government to allocate resources for extension, involvement of youth and women as key players in the value chain and nutritional awareness campaigns on the value of cassava flour.

“We cannot leave Africa to be thought about by other people but we need to think about it ourselves because no one will come from elsewhere and design the destiny of Africa,” these were the remarks of Antony Masinde- FCI Senior Technical Specialist Agro- processing and Enterprise Incubation while making closing remarks during the forum.

 

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FCI VISION : To have commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond