MONDAY, 21 MAY 2018
The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA), together with the Regional Platform for Central African Producers Organisations (PROPAC) and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has launched this week in Kinshasa a new project to unlock the economic potential in cassava value chains in both DRC and Cameroon.
10 cassava cooperatives (five per country) will be targeted with a combined membership of approximately 10,000 smallholder farmers. Expected outcomes include increased income, enhanced food security and employment opportunities for women and youth.
With a growing urban population and increase in middle class income, cassava plays a critical role in achieving food security objectives but can also be the basis for innovative and sustainable business models especially for women and youth. For millions of Central African smallholders, the road to urban food markets leads through this nascent agricultural processing sector.
However, while the cassava sector continues to play a critical role in Central Africa in terms of income generation, food security and job creation for rural communities the industrial processing of cassava, although often described as a great opportunity for the local agro-food industries, is not yet economically and financially sustainable. Industrial bakeries for example still rely to a great extent on imports of wheat flour.
The ‘Accelerating Innovative and Sustainable Cassava Business Models for Women and Youth in Central Africa (Manioc21)’ project will fine-tune and accelerate innovative and new business models that create market linkages and promote added-value activities to be scaled-up at the regional level. Starting in DRC and Cameroon for a period of two years, the goal is to gradually increase the number of cooperatives to be supported across Central Africa.
CTA Senior Programme Coordinator Vincent Fautrel: “A focus on building innovation in important agricultural value chains is a proven way to affect development outcomes. This new project will seek to build entrepreneurial capacity among cooperative leaders and managers and to drive greater efficiencies and new job opportunities. With the introduction of ICT based solutions we expect a greater involvement of youth… a key concern for Central African governments.”
Groundwork for the project was laid at the CTA-PROPAC-IITA convened Regional Forum on Cassava in Cameroon in December 2016 which identified local innovations that, combined with new skills can trigger the development of new business models that will eventually improve the economic performance of cooperatives around cassava value chains and lead to job creation and business opportunities in particular for women and youth.