Training workshops seeks to add value to cassava

A week long training workshop on adding value to cassava opens today in Kibaha, Coast Region.

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) said in a statement that the workshop would be a training session for trainers under the Unleashing the Power of Cassava in Africa (UPoCA)project.
Participants will be officials from the public and private sectors and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from the countrys main cassava growing zones.

"The training on processing high quality cassava flour and product development will be hands-on and practical. The trainees will, in turn, train small-scale processing groups and farmers in their respective zones on cassava processing, packaging and storage to improved shelf life," IITA Tanzania said in the statement.

UPoCA project areas in Tanzania are Dodoma Rural and Mpwapwa in the Central Zone, Tandahimba, Nachingwea and Lindi in the Southern Zone and the Eastern Zones Kisarawe and Bagamoyo districts. The USAID-funded project is currently undertaken in seven countries, namely DR Congo, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Tanzania.

The project was initiated in the context of the current food crisis and global financial meltdown that have affected the ability of poor people in sub-Saharan Africa to meet their food needs.

"The UPoCA project responds to the food crisis in Africa by promoting cassava as an engine for rural economic growth and improved livelihoods with spillover benefits to urban populations. The project focuses on the cassava because of its ability to create low and steady prices for basic food products," the IITA statement says.

It adds that the project aims to empower farmers and their organisations to provide an adequate supply of cassava products at affordable prices. The strategy includes developing and making available to farmers improved cassava varieties and equipping farmers and agro-processors with the knowledge and skills to reduce postharvest losses. It will also diversify cassava uses by stimulating the production of value added cassava-based food and industrial products.

"A range of user friendly improved postharvest technologies developed by IITA and national partners will be disseminated for the production of starch, dried chips, high quality cassava flour and other products, thereby adding value to the crop. The processed products have a longer shelf-life."

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