With increased efforts to promote cassava value addition for increased shelf life and better income, new Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SME’s) and Community Processing Groups (CPGs) in Uganda are increasingly expressing interest in production of High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF), which interest is largely attributed to the CAVA II Uganda project. The 48 new SME’s and CPGs are from the Northern part of Uganda.
In the month of August alone this year, 33 new SME’s and CPGs in Teso and Bullisa areas were initiated into active HQCF processing. Among these is Landmark Millers Limited in Soroti district (SME), Koloin Agro-processors in Ngora district (SME), Teso farmers in Soroti district (SME), Kokom in Pallisa district (CPG), Kokong Village SACCO in Ngora district (CPG), and Marshall cassava in Bullisa district (SME).
In the Lango region over 15 SMEs and CPGs were adopted including ORIB CING Women Group in Alebtong district (CPG), Twomo Emmanuel in Apac district (SME), IGEL Cassava Growers in Kole district (CPG), Ongica Farmers Group in Lira district (CPG) and Divine organic foods in Lira district (SME).
Since their initiation, the project has availed them trainings in the areas of quality assurance in value addition with targets to have traceability to ascertain quality in cassava processing. The project has also linked these with clean planting materials through collaboration with the Cassava Seed System project in which certified and high yielding disease tolerant varieties (NAROCASS I, NASE 14, and NASE 19) of cassava seed have been readily accessed for planting, to increase yield production.
One of the beneficiaries on board, a new SME and CSE is Mr. Okiror Gilbert of Koloin Agro-Processors, located in Koloin, Ngora District. He has adopted use of raised metallic sun drying racks for drying his processed cassava. He accessed these racks through the CAVA II Uganda project that is being implemented by Africa Innovations Institute (AfrII). With this new technology, Mr. Okiror is able to achieve drying in 3 -4 hours and then mill into flour. The technology has also saved him the burden of drying cassava on bare ground.
‘I have been a cassava farmer for a long time but it is just of recent after I was discovered by CAVA II that I have greatly improved in this business. I started on cassava multiplication and processing, and currently with my 10 acres of cassava I can now produce better varieties of cassava and supply of roots for processing is no longer a problem. With the knowledge CAVA II has availed me, I’m also passing on this knowledge to other farmers and I can tell you, a lot is changing in their lives as well”. Says Mr. Okiror
With the trainings received from CAVA II Uganda, Mr. Okiror has managed to reach out to fellow farmers and passed onto these, services including availing farmer to farmer skills enhancement (pay a Visit and learn), training youth on good agricultural practices such as proper spacing, row planting, weed management, and timely harvesting. The value addition demonstrations are widely impacting on the whole community and many have turned to cassava production. He has also established a farmer to farmer saving club in which at each sitting each farmer gives in a savings of 1000 Uganda shillings.
Mr. Okiror acknowledges CAVA II Uganda for the support including availing him processing skills and techniques to obtain High Quality Cassava Flour and access to clean cassava seed for multiplication business. He accessed the NASE14, NASE 19 and NAROCASS1 varieties that he is currently farming, through CAVA II Uganda.
Another beneficiary SME is Landmark Millers Limited in Soroti district, managed by Mr. Okubal Charles-the Director. His vision on cassava includes an inclusive out grower’s business model to sustain cassava root supply and has set up mother gardens from which farmers can access new varieties of good quality planting materials. He has been in the processing business dealing in maize milling but has now dedicated part of his milling unit to process High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF).
‘we have a very big dream for cassava and we are going step by step. I have embarked on establishing raised metallic drying racks at all processing sites based in the rural setting. Before we met CAVA II Uganda, we had so many challenges, struggling with cassava, drying it on the ground and with my mill being by the roadside you can imagine how the quality was being affected. Cassava is here all year round and cassava for me as a person from Soroti, is the staple and so if we have to sustain and improve livelihoods of our people, we need to promote what we locally depend on, add value to it and promote it further than just a crop for food” Mr. Okubal remarks.
Also, with his growing network of cassava farmers, Mr. Okubal hopes that with time, the challenges to do with scarcity of the cassava crop will be addressed. “Our network is such that we have six registered sub-counties with 10 groups of farmers registered with us. We also have some farmers outside the network which keeps growing by the day thanks to CAVA II. We have tasked farmers to each give the mill 1 acre of cassava of the certified planting material. In Ngora, for example our farmer group has already planted some new materials on their 10acre plot. We have also agreed that Landmark millers must have at least 10 acres in each location to act as the mother gardens for seed multiplication. With CAVA on our side, we are going to be rest assured of the material we circulate, because so far, through them, I have been able to access clean planting materials to sustain the fresh cassava root supply for my mill”
He followed the advice availed by CAVA II and has since had a break through in supply, being one of the major suppliers of cassava flour to the breweries. “We are expected to supply about 200 tons of cassava flour to UBL for their Ngule beer but we also have the regional markets, like Rwanda and South Sudan buying from us” says Mr. Okubal who is also hopeful to obtain the flash dryer technology in the near future.
The AfrII Zonal Manager- CAVA II Uganda, Mr. Anthony Ijala says that the growing interest the SME’s have gained in the project is proof that a lot is being done and appreciated. “when you see SME’s like Mr. Okubal of Land Mark Millers getting on board, this is a good thing. His interest with the CAVA project has pushed him to achieve bigger in as far as processing. He has a growing farmer network and has embarked on a lot of demonstrating with a lot of new planting materials of varieties like NAROCAS 1, NASE 14 and NASE 19. The varieties give a yield of 30 tons per hectare and these are yields that are very hopeful for Uganda to sustain the cassava processing sector”
‘Another exemplary new SME, Marshall Cassava in Bullisa district have taken it very seriously and have so far set up 5 sets of raised metallic drying racks and a solar screen dryer. These are achievements we are proud of as a project but we also have to acknowledge the willingness of many farmers out there to embrace new technologies” adds Mr. Ijala.
The CAVA II team has been greatly influential in all these steps and special acknowledgements are attributed to the Zonal team including the Zonal Manager, Mr. Anthony Ijala and the Zonal officer, Mr. Summuel Baker Ogwang. Also sharing in this glory is the CAVA II Uganda Country Manager, Mr. Francis Alacho, the CAVA II Uganda technical advisor Professor G. W Otim-Nape, also the AfrII Chairman, the BDE’s and the rest of the CAVA II Uganda team, whose continued efforts in improving cassava production under the CAVA II project is greatly benefitting.
The Cassava Adding Value for Africa Phase 2 (CAVA II) Project supports adding value and commercialization of cassava in Africa. The CAVA II project has successfully developed value chains for HQCF, by supporting investors to establish HQCF processing sites in Eastern, Northern and Central Uganda. The current investors include community processors, SMEs based on sun and solar drying. The project also facilitated processors to supply on contract arrangements HQCF to end user industries such as rural bakeries, beer breweries and biscuit manufacturers who use it to make composite flour, beer and biscuits respectively. CAVA II is being implemented in 18 districts including Pallisa, Kibuku, Budaka, Bukedea, Kumi, Soroti, Ngora, Serere, Dokolo, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Lira, Apac, Otuke, Oyam Kole Kaberamaido and Alebtong.
CAVA II project beneficiaries include; Smallholder farmers, Small and Medium Enterprises and selected projects working on cassava value chains, among others.
The project is also being implemented in 4 other countries of Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi.