The Cassava Value Addition for Africa (C:ava) Malawi has bemoaned the little attention cassava is getting especially as a cash crop, saying, farmers and government are failing to fully capitalise on the crop amid high demand from some production companies in the country.
In a telephone interview, C:ava Malawi manager Vito Sandifolo said farmers need to be supported so that they produce enough cassava for both consumption and commercial purposes, considering that the crop is on high demand.
He was reacting to a development in Nkhata Bay where cooperatives are failing to meet the demand for High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) by some companies which use the product as a raw material.
Limbikani Cassava Processing and Marketing Cooperative Society Limited (LCPMCS) at Chombe, Old Maula Cassava Processing (OMCP) and Kapoko Cassava Processing (KCP) in the district were tasked to supply of 50 metric tons of HQCF monthly, but they are failing due to shortage of cassava in the district.
HQCF is an extra ordinary clean flour that is being processed using advanced technology without socking tubers in water for softening.
Chairperson for LCPMCS, Dina Mwase whose cooperative comprises 15 members, lamented their failure to producing 50 tons of flour monthly and supply to Raiply Malawi Limited, Packaging Industries Limited as well as Rab Processors Limited.
“We began as a cooperative under Fidp in 2009 when we were growing cassava for food. But we registered our society with the help of C: ava after learning from the media that companies need high quality cassava flour as a raw material for other produce.
“We have the opportunity but we are failing to produce more flour because cassava is scarce. It pains us to see that we are losing money in such a manner”, she explained.
As such, Sandifolo has emphasised that farmers should adopt improved varieties of the lake shore districts cash crop so that they embrace economic opportunities currently flowing on the market.
Said Sandifolo: “Nkhata Bay has a bigger land compared to Nkhotakota so farmers have the opportunity of making more money from cassava if they can begin producing more to meet the demand.”
In his presentation at a Cassava Investors Forum held at Mzuzu Hotel in November last year, Sandifolo observed that cassava has a great potential to help manage Malawi’s import bill in line with the government’s wishes.
“Benefits from cassava value chains provide high prospects locally and within the region. Significant opportunities are available in processing and use of cassava products such as High Quality Cassava Flour which is the source of starch, ethanol and glucose,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nkhata Bay district agribusiness officer, Gladwell Banda who is also a middle man between farmers and buyers, confirmed he was tasked to source over 1 000 fifty-kilogramme bags of HQCF from the cooperatives, but he failed since they produce in small quantities.
District agricultural officer (Dado), Edison Ngoma, said Nkhata Bay district has about 60 000 farming house-holds that can be given an opportunity to sell their raw cassava to three cooperative societies for processing. n