Use cassava instead of imported starch

RESEARCHERS have been asked to find out how industries can use more of cassava produced in the country as part of the efforts to reduce importation of starch.

By doing so they 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 the session of panel discussion, with a theme: “Unearthing resilient markets for cassava in Tanzania” the Director, Crop Development Directorate from the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Nyasebwa Chimagu said many factories in the country import flour/starch that can be found from cassava grown in Tanzania.

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

Dr Chimagu said the 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 study 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 a ten-year strategy (2019-2028) plan to have quality agricultural seeds.

“In order to achieve the goals we have a strategy to be able to convey the knowledge of the use of quality seeds to farmers,” said Dr Chimagu.

He said that currently many farmers are not producing productively because they are still using old seeds and old-fashioned farming to get seeds from their crops in their farm where they are producing six to eight tonnes per hectare which did not motivate farmers.

He said that the seeds that are in the market and stakeholders continue to educate farmers and Tanzanians in whole it is able to produce 25 to 50 tonnes per hectare.

Dr Chimagu said that if farmers are educated and use better seeds, the yield will be increased, thus increasing their income and food security as well as selling in the neighbouring countries’ markets such as Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda, including the Chinese market.

He said that so far cassava farmers in the country have reached 1.9 million and the government continues to encourage young people to enter the value chain of the cassava crop.

The IITA Advocacy, Resource Mobilization 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 mechanization of cassava processing in Tanzania through the introduction of the technologies for the processing of 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 household food security and reducing food and raw material imports, especially wheat by countries,” said Dr Kapinga.

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