Cassava Production Gets U.S. $1.6 Million

The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) said it is now in a better position to increase cassava production and boost food security in Africa after commissioning five new processing centers in Sierra Leone.

The centers are part of a $1.6 million Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) project that involves Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Benin Republic funded by the IITA for increased cassava production to ensure food security and reduce poverty.

According to a statement released from the institute and signed by the Corporate Communication Officer Godwin Atser, the CFC project is aimed at adding value to cassava and to boost its production for wealth creation.

Coordinator of the program Prof. Lateef Sanni, said the project, "would improve the livelihood and income of farmers and stakeholders in the Cassava enterprise but more importantly, it would create market and drive the production of cassava."

The statement also revealed that the production of cassava has been on the increase in Sierra Leone since 1990 climbing from 178,200 metric tons in 1990 to 1, 236, 852 metric tons in 2007.

The Director General of the Sierra Leon Institute Agricultural Research Institute Dr. Alfred Dixon explained that the various uses of cassava is put to use in the country have created high demand for the product.

He said products like Garri, a Nigerian introduced staple food has actually increased the demand for cassava, making it second to rice in terms of staple food demand because both its roots and leaves are used as food.

IITA said the establishment of the processing centers in local communities Waterloo, Bo District, Njala Agricultural Research Center (NARC), Makeni city and Teko and Hamdalai, all in Sierra Leone has created interest in cassava production.

A local farmer Dorris Kargbo, who benefited from the Cassava center in Hamdalai village, said more than 40 farming groups have been formed for cassava production.

She said each of the groups consists of not less than 30 farmers and the formation of the groups is to ensure a steady supply of cassava tubers to the processing centers for conversion into Foofoo, Garri, Cassava Cake and Cassava Doughnut among others.

"This would create jobs to our people, generate wealth and reduce poverty. It is our own strategy for contributing to in Sierra Leone", she said

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