The county government of Kilifi has come up with an elaborate plan to revive cassava farming in Kilifi and make it a commercial venture.
Agriculture CECM Patterson Chula said already plans have been made to complete the stalled cassava processing factory in Tezo
Speaking during the Vijana Agribiz trade fair Chula said the county is purchasing 1.5 cassava cuttings to distribute to farmers across the county.
“Kilifi county is food insecure. This has been largely contributed by the erratic rainfall and the over reliance to maize. We are now starting a serious campaign to encourage people to plant cassava because it is drought tolerant and a good cash crop. We will distribute 1, 583, 330 cassava cuttings this season and we will continue scaling up until we make Kilifi food secure,” said Chula
The CECM said the contractor for the Kilifi cassava-processing factory will resume installation of the machinery.
“The factory construction started in 2014 but it stalled. There was a problem with the machines and the problem was solved. We expect the factory to start operations in June,” said Chula
He said a team of agricultural officers through the Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme has sensitized farmers on the commercial viability of the cassava.
Kilifi county ASDSP coordinator Caroline Farra said by January this year, 2745.05 hectares were under cassava in Kilifi county.
Out of the 2745.05Ha, 906.85Ha were mature cassava.
“In 2022 we had 5831 Hactares under cassava. The estimated production from mature cassava in January was 22671.25 tonnes of raw cassava.
The production has been boosted by the introduction of improved cassava varieties from the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization KALRO.
The research organization introduced seven improved varieties that were meant to change cassava growing from a subsistence to a commercial crop.
Farra said farmers due to its resilience to harsh climatic conditions are embracing cassava.
Farra said many players are now engaging farmers for value addition and market linkages.
“Most farmers do not want to value add their produce, instead they look for someone to buy in bulk and do the value addition. We are trying to discourage this by training them on value addition and setting up of aggregation centres where they process the cassava and sell it at a higher price,” she said
However, Farra said the Department of Agriculture has been able to identify various stakeholders in the cassava farming sector to address on the market challenges.
He said that stakeholders including Self Help Africa and Ustadi Foundation have been key in the cassava value chain production.
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Currently there are two private cassava processing companies in Kilifi.
“We have Reinman and Manga as the current processors. There are two other potential buyers, Tapioca and Giraffe bioenergy,” she said
Farmers have also grouped them in aggregation centres to value add cassava.
Abel Lugo from Matsangoni Aggregation CBO, which is an association of cassava farmers in the area, said they process raw cassava and put it into cans that they sell to a cassava flour milling company.
“We grind the cassava chips into flour and sell it to millers for different use. We also process the flour for sale to locals who make snacks and confectioners,” he said.
He said that grinding cassava flour has helped to remove the misconception among the community that some types of cassava are not good and are painful.
“When cassava is crushed, it produces the same flour, it doesn’t matter what type of cassava, but the flour is good for ugali, porridge and baking,” he said.
Lugo explained that farmers make a profit of sh40, 000 in one month.