IITA supports formation of Tanzania Cassava Producers and processors Association (TACAPPA)
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has collaborated with other stakeholders to develop and launch the Tanzania Cassava Producers and Processors Association (TACCAPA), which brings together cassava producers and processors to address bottlenecks and challenges facing production and utilization of the crop in the country.
The Tanzania Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Omary Mgumba, launched TACAPPA on 10 February in Dar es Salaam. Mgumba noted that cassava is an important food crop with the potential to be a cash crop. He said, to support commercialization of the crop, the Government of Tanzania was in the process of formulating a policy to substitute wheat with 20% of Cassava flour in all baked products.
However, he said the productivity of cassava in the country does not meet the market demand. This was due to several reasons including poor agriculture practices, not planting improved varieties, and lack of market linkages. This in turn makes cassava flour expensive. He further commended the efforts of research institutes for their work on cassava, especially breeding for drought and disease resistance, which had resulted in the official release of 20 varieties.
In her remarks, the TACAPPA Chairperson Mwantumu Mahiza said Tanzania has a high demand for starch, but starch used in the country is imported while it can be produced locally from cassava. She also noted unavailability of improved varieties, delay of research results, inadequate knowledge on cassava farming and lack of markets are among challenges facing the farmers hence the need for an association.
“We want an association so that all people who are in cassava business have one voice. We want cassava to be recognized as a strategic crop. Cassava is the only crop which can get us out of poverty because out of one-acre farm produce, a farmer can consume a quarter and sell the remaining three quarter,” she said.
IITA was among the institutes that supported the formation and launch of the cassava association. Speaking at the event, IITA Senior Scientist, Frederick Baijukya, highlighted the Institute’s efforts in boosting cassava production and commercialization. He said, “Cassava is a prominent crop for IITA, which has been researching the crop for more than 50 years.”
He noted that IITA has two major projects addressing the challenges in the cassava value chain. One of these is “Building Economically Sustainable Cassava Seed Systems (BEST Cassava) funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is working towards ensuring the availability of clean quality cassava varieties through commercialized systems. The second project is the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI), which is developing and promoting best practices in cassava agronomy to maximize output.
IITA staff also participated and displayed some of the organization’s technologies related to cassava. The Deputy Minister and other participants were thrilled with the NURU App and coating of cassava with beeswax to extend the crop’s shelf life. “These technologies should be made accessible to the farmers so they can use them,” he said.
IITA has been working on improving cassava production through breeding, finding solutions to pests and diseases, and establishing a cassava seed system. IITA also introduced mechanization of cassava processing using modern equipment.
In Tanzania, cassava is the second staple food after maize. Many regions in the country, with about 1.9 million farmers, engage in the production of the crop. Apart from the economic benefits, the crop plays a big role in terms of food security and nutritional purposes.