FEMCOM’s Cassava Cluster Project Transforming Lives in Kenya

Nairobi, Saturday, October 5, 2019: The demand for cassava in the international market has been rising and the need for efficient markets and a better coordinated cassava value chain among cassava producers and processors has become even more important.

It is estimated that the current potential market for starch is 66 million tonnes thus providing opportunities for cassava producing countries in COMESA region to exploit.

This has inspired the COMESA Federation of National Associations of Women in Business in Eastern and Southern Africa  also known as FEMCOM, to pilot cassava cluster projects in selected Member States.

The pilot programme is being implemented in 10 COMESA cassava growing countries namely Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The objective is to enhance the competitiveness of cassava MSMEs by building their capacity for integration in intra-regional trade.

One of the success stories is the, Tangakona Commercial Village Cassava Cluster initiative in Kenya’s Busia County. The cluster received funding from COMESA though the Regional Integration Support Programme (RISP) in 2015 Since then,  it has managed to grow its business and now supplies value added cassava products across the country.

COMESA/FEMCOM and Farm Concern team conducted a monitoring and documentation visit from 30 September to 4 October 2019 to the Cassava clusters in Busia. The team found that farmers have now registered their value-added products with the Kenya Bureau of Standards thus meeting the required quality standards for the national and regional markets.

The Tangakona Cassava Cluster supplies over 10,000 tons of Cassava chips per month to “Trufoods” an agricultural company based in Nairobi. This has helped them expand their production of Cassava allowing them to build a new structure accommodating their offices.

On her maiden tour of the Cluster, FEMCOM Chief Executive Officer Ruth Negash expressed satisfaction with the success of the cluster.

“You can see for yourselves that if we empower the businesses of cassava farmers through capacity building on commercialization of small holder enterprises, major results can be achieved by our African people creating jobs and reducing poverty in the region,” she said.

In 2016, Kenya produced approximately 600,000 metric tons of cassava.

Market opportunities for farmers and processors include cassava flour as a replacement for wheat flour, cassava starch as a raw material for food and non-food industries and cassava chips for domestic livestock feed sector and export.