Investors urged to take advantage of cassava

Tanzania produces about 5.4 million metric tonnes of cassava, of which 4.5 million tonnes, 84pc, is available for consumption.

Cassava productivity in Tanzania is only 8t/ha while the average sweet potato yield has been reported to be 4.5t/ha.

The main production areas of cassava in Tanzania are: Mwanza, Mtwara, Lindi, Shinyanga, Tanga Ruvuma, Mara Kigoma, the Coastal regions and Zanzibar.

According to the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), cassava production is well below its potential yield of 20t/ha. Low yields arise because the majority of farmers use local varieties with low genetic potential and susceptibility to major diseases and insect pests.

Over the last five years, there has been a steady growth in demand for commercial and industrial use of new cassava value added products including milling, starch manufacture, wet cakes, chips, animal feed, beer and beverages, sweets, paper mills, textile factories, hardboard, paint and pharmaceuticals.

As a result, there is substantial potential demand for cassava-based products in Tanzania in the medium to long-term.

Mwantumu Mahiza, Chairperson of Tanzania Cassava Producers and Processors Association (TACAPPA) calls on stakeholders to come up with innovative ways of preserving cassava to maximise production and profit.

She urges investors to come on board to good use of unused cassava left to go waste.

According to Mahiza, the many benefits, the number of cassava seeds producers was still down, with only 480 (producers) available country-wide.

She recommends farmers and would-be farmers to take advantage of the country’s comparative advantage in cassava cultivation to increase its international market share.

“Cassava production has been “promising only those farmers have to be supported to improve on the quality of what they produce,” she says.

The TACAPPA Chairperson encourages other private players to emulate some institutions in enhancing socio-economic development in the cassava value chain.

Traditionally cassava is consumed in the form of fresh cassava roots and processed products such as Ugali.

Tanzania is the largest producer of cassava in Africa with potential to produce much more. Majority of people employed in the agriculture sector in the country engage in cassava production or intercrop with cassava.

The sub-sector therefore contributes significantly to increasing income and livelihoods for men and women in the rural and semi-urban areas.

Present phenomena of industrialisation and commercialisation of the value chain, has created an additional opportunity for upstream and downstream chain actors to leverage for increased income and prosperity.

This is being driven by what could be termed as ‘the new industries for cassava prominence’, processing and drying technologies.

The demand by the brewery, distillery industries as well as domestic use in bakery, pastries and in local dishes in the various cycles of education provides important opportunities for entrepreneurs to create wealth and employment.

Lessons learnt have indicated that inadequate processing capacity to mop up cassava produced by the farmers is a major constraint.

Consistent increase in demand for processed cassava products has put pressure on the current small number of processors whose production capacities are very low.

However, experience suggests that there is very significant number of potential investors scouting for reliable source of information on economic and industrial potentials in the cassava value chain.