Research set to boost cassava productivity

TANZANIA : RESEARCHERS have been asked to conduct a study that will help to identify the kind of starch used in local factories so as to encourage more investment in value-addition of the crop and sell the product to industrialists in the country.

By doing so the country will also reduce the use of US dollars used to import starch and expand the farmers’ market as well as increase the value chain of the crop.

Closing a panel discussion session, themed ‘Unearthing Resilient Markets for Cassava in Tanzania,’ the Director of Crop Development in the Ministry of Agriculture Dr Nyasebwa Chimagu said many factories in the country import flour/starch that can be obtained from cassava being grown in Tanzania.

“Some manufacturers import starch so we need to know what kind of starch is imported for the use of our local factories so that we can add value and increase productivity of the crop, sell it to industrialists at the same time expand the local markets for the crop,” said Dr Chimagu during the session, which was organised by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) as part of the Africa Food System Forum 2023.

Dr Chimagu said the demand value of starch for 2021 reached 40 billion US dollars and it is estimated that it will continue to increase to 60 billion US dollars by 2026.

Dr Chimagu, named the areas that need to be researched including pharmaceutical factories, textile, livestock, food and human food consumption.

“We want our researchers to find out the needs of pharmaceutical industries, textile industries and other industries that use starch in order to be sure of the market for the crop in the country,” said Dr Chimagu.

According to its importance, Dr Chimagu said, the government has devised a ten year strategy (2019- 2028) to have quality agri- cultural seeds.

“In order to achieve the goals, we have a strategy which will enable the government to convey the knowledge on the use of quality seeds to farmers,” said Dr Chimagu.

He said that currently cassava production is low because farmers use traditional seeds and farming methods as a result, they produce between six to eight tonnes per hectare.

Dr Chimagu said that the seeds are in the market and stakeholders continue to educate farmers and Tanzanians in general to use them so that they can increase pro- ductivity by producing 25 to 50 tonnes per hectare.

He said that if farmers are educated and use bet- ter seeds, the yield will be increased, thus increasing their income and food security as well as selling to the neighbouring countries’ markets such as Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda and Chinese market as well.

He said that so far cas- sava farmers in the country have reached 1.9 million and the government continues to encourage young people to engage in value addition for the crop.

The IITA Advocacy, Resource Mobilisation and Seed System Specialist, Dr Regina Kapinga said in the last 20 years IITA and partners such as Ministry of Agriculture made important contribution to the mecha- nisation of cassava process- ing in Tanzania through the introduction of the technologies for processing cassava into value-added products especially high-quality cassava flour (HQCF) starch and other derivatives.

“The HQCF technology provides opportunities for smallholder farmers to access more profitable markets while also increasing house- hold food security and reducing food and raw material imports, especially wheat by countries,” said Dr Kapinga.

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