The Manager of Knowledge Management and Communication Dr. Richard Kasuga accompanied with other Managers and Directors from TARI HQ,Center Directors and some staff from TRI Tumbi and TARI Kihinga visiting various seedling nurseries at TARI Tumbi after the opening of Agricultural Technolgy Transfer hub. Photo Credit: TARI

Cassava processing grows Cameroon’s food basket

[rt_dropcap_style dropcap_letter=”S” dropcap_content=”ANGMELEMA basin in the Southern region of Cameroon remains a food basket, accounting for a significant share of the country’s maize, coco yam and cassava production.”]

In 2021, the government invested in a CFA1.2 billion cassava processing facility Sotramas, aiming produce 120 tons of starch and flour per day and create an income generation opportunity for cassava farmers in the region. But a shortage of raw materials initially hindered the facility from meeting the production target.

To solve the problem, the promoters of Sotramas, the Ministry of Agriculture, municipality of Sangmelima and the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and

Handicrafts (Ccima) of Cameroon, established multiple cassava clusters around the city of Sangmelima, getting empowering over 1,000 youth to join in cassava farming. “These clusters were established on fields of 150 hectares per five farmers. The government offered the farmers quality seeds and trained over 1,000 youth to take up cassava farming.

“We are glad the scheme has been successful,” says the regional delegate for agriculture in Sangmelema, Andreas Ébène. According to estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture, over 4,000 hectares of cassava were being cultivated in the area in 2022, thanks to the project. “It will take over five years for Sotramas to reach full capacity, a goal that is being gradually achieved,” Ebah Sone of the Chamber said.

Cassava processing has been a blessing to the famers in the area since the project started. “We can now transform our cassava into flour and sell in big markets in the city of Yaounde and Douala, thanks to the processing plant,” says Regina Assam, a cassava famer.

With more hands on the plough, production has tripled, attracting more costumers from big cities and improving the income of the farmers.

“Though a student, l am also into cassava farming. The income I earn enables me buy some books and pay my school fees. This is a relief to my parents,” says Anthony Doh, a young cassava farmer who benefited from the training project.

Cassava is a staple food in Cameroon and most parts of west and Central Africa. However, its production like most food crops experts say, is hampered by lack quality seeds, attack by pests, and a lack of farm inputs such as fertilisers.

“When farmers are given the support they need it’s possible for Africa to fight hunger,” says Agustin Njamnshi of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).

Farmers also worry about the poor condition of roads, which make it difficult to transport their produce to markets. “We need good roads. Our products go bad because of delays in reaching distant markets. The roads in Sangmelema are a nightmare,” Doh says.

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