The Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of agriculture, Prof Siza Tumbo told the stakeholders at a meeting in Dodoma recently that while cassava was the second most important subsistence food crop after maize, with only 84 per cent of the total production in the country used for food consumption, its farm level productivity was very low.
He was speaking in Dodoma during the meeting with key stakeholders in the cassava sector in Tanzania that aimed at developing the high-impact plan for transforming cassava in the country and its contribution to the country’s agriculture-led industrialisation agenda.
The meeting was convened by the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and the Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP II).
The meeting was part of the continent-wide technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) programme of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) and IITA, which is supporting African countries in scaling up proven technologies and agribusiness opportunities for eighteen key agricultural commodity value chains.
The TAAT cassava compact seeks to achieve rapid cassava intensification through raising farm-level productivity, improving the efficiency of processing, and increasing market opportunity for the actors.
The director general of Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI), Geoffrey Mkamilo commended the programme saying it will scale-out to the value chain actors proven technologies such as improved high-yielding varieties and innovative processing techniques to transform cassava in the country into an industrial crop and address challenges facing cassava farmers. These include lack of quality seeds of improved high yield varieties, high postharvest losses due to limited processing and lack of markets.
The cassava TAAT compact coordinator at IITA, Dr Abass Adebayo said that under the programme, they will introduce both the technologies and the technical support to enable the private sector to make investment in profitable cassava production and processing.
Dr Abass who is also a value chain specialist explained that the technologies will include processing of cassava into various value-added products of high financial returns on investments.
“These will include processing of cassava into chips, starch, and flour which could be further processed to high-value products such as sweeteners, adhesives, biscuits, noodles, bread, and cakes,” he added.
Cassava is an important crop under ASDP II, launched in March 2018. It is one of the priority commodity value chains for the Lake, Eastern, and Southern zones, under the One Region One Commodity Initiative,” said Zakaria Muyengi from the ASDP II coordination office.
With an annual production estimated at 6.8 million tonnes, the country is the twelfth largest producer of cassava in the world and the sixth largest in Africa after Nigeria, The DRC, Ghana, Angola and Mozambique. The annual cassava production contributes to about 5.5 percent of the total cassava production in the world and 14 per cent of Africa’s production.
On the other hand, the future demand of cassava in Tanzania is projected to be between 530,000 and 630,000 tonnes and the potential drivers of increased local demand are milling, animal feeds, beer and beverages, sweets and snacks, starch manufacture, textile factories, paper mills and hardboards, paint and pharmaceuticals.