The Frederic and Jocelyne Scheer African Starsh Development Company Limited (FJS), a US private foundation that promotes creative projects to generate sustainable employment in Tanzania, has recently announced that the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) has engaged to provide TZS 420 million to boost the cassava-processing factory run by FJS in Bungu Village in Tanzania’s western region.
The funds will be used for working capital and for new machinery that aim at raising cassava-flour production at the cassava starch and flour plant to support food security, jobs creation, farmers’ steady revenue and improvement of their livelihood.
According to FJS, one of the main obstacles cassava farmers are dealing with is the issue of selling their crops to generate steady revenue since they are very capable on improving their own productivity and raise the crop’s output, but face challenges finding opportunities to sell it due to very poor roads’ system.
Therefore, attractive markets 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, the poor state of roads and the lack of refrigeration make it difficult to transport fresh food.
With the new investment, the cassava starch and flour plant will be able to produce approximately 1 tonne of cassava flour a day that are panned to be used for covering local and international demand, explained UNCDF Tanzania Head of Country, Mr. Peter Malika.
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, Mr. Malika added.
According to FJS, cassava farmers are able to distribute their crops within a 30 miles radius area in the absence of refrigeration, however, with cassava-flour they will be able to deliver their products beyond that area.
Africa currently accounts for 2.1% of the total cassava produced and exported in the world totaling an industry of USD 2.86 billion.
Tanzania ranks 8th in Africa with a cassava production worth USD 369,000 representing 0.63% of the total exported from Africa with Ghana topping the list exporting USD 33.9 million or 58% of the continent.
Cassava annual demand growth is estimated at an average of 3.4% and is being cultivated in all Tanzania’s regions with Mwanza, Mtwara, Lindi, Shinyanga, Tanga, Ruvuma, Mara Kigoma, and Coats Regions as the main producing areas according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO).