Chips are up with new cassava scheme

Sanguan Wongse Industries Co, a major producer and exporter of tapioca starch, is confident that government efforts to promote an integrated tapioca industry in Nakhon Ratchasima will ensure manufacturers a steady supply of cassava roots.

A programme that begins today features co-operation between the Agriculture, Energy and Industry ministries, manufacturers and planters in promoting the province as a main cassava source for the animal feed and alternative energy sectors.

A guaranteed steady supply will enable the company to maintain annual production at 250,000 tonnes, said Thidarat Tantiwong, the managing director.

"More importantly, stable production and reasonable prices will prevent our buyers from shifting to other kinds of flour," she said.

The competitiveness of Thai tapioca flour took a big hit this month, when the price soared to US$600 a tonne, prompting users to turn to other ingredients, especially corn flour, which is cheaper at about $500 a tonne.

"The paper and sweetener sectors have opted to use tapioca flour because of its low price, but if our products are more expensive, users will choose other products," said Ms Thidarat.

The price of tapioca starch declined somewhat last week, but production of field corn is expected to increase, pulling down the price of that crop. This year's cassava output will also suffer from drought and mealy bug infestation.

A local industry study forecasts the coming season's output at only 21 million tonnes, down 4.55% from the previous crop and 30% from the 2008-09 season.

"Falling output is expected to intensify competition for supply among manufacturers for tapioca products _ starch, pellets and chips," said Ms Thidarat.

About half of last year's total crop of 22 million tonnes of cassava was acquired by the starch industry and the rest used in chips and pellets for animal feed. This year's shortage will be exacerbated by strong demand from a new major user, ethanol plants.

Of the 30 million tonnes of cassava roots produced in 2008-09, only 2.42 million went to ethanol plants, and the volume will be much lower this year. The price of roots soared to more than 3 baht a kilogramme in recent months, dropping back to 2.20 last week as the new harvest began.

To obtain more of the supply, Ms Thidarat said tapioca flour producers would offer a higher price to planters, 2.50 baht. The Northeast is a major hub for the flour industry, home to 80 of the country's 148 factories that together shipped 2.5 million tonnes of native and modified starch last year.

The Agriculture Ministry said the integrated industry programme would ensure satisfactory prices for farmers under the contract-farming model. Besides a guaranteed price, the estimated 1,000 planters participating will receive assistance including dissemination of high-productivity strains and management training.

"This is a long-term project aimed at promoting a sustainable cassava industry in which planters can earn sufficient income and manufacturers can conduct their business," said Ms Thidarat.

The programme will turn Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand's biggest cassava production base with about 25% of output, into a prototype supply destination for the food and fuel industries.

It will also attract new investment from Sanguan Wongse in the form of a 200-million-baht biomass power plant that uses waste from the flour production process.

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Brazilian university to build cassava processing factory in Angola

A cassava processing factory is due to be built in the location of Zâmbia, Amboim municipality, in Angola’s Kwanza Sul province, by Brazil’s Santa Cruz do Sul University (Unisc/Brazil), the advisor to the university’s chancellor said Thursday in Sumbe.

Silmo Schuler told Angolan news agency Angop that the execution of the project would benefit 1,000 families, which would ensure the supply of cassava produced in an area of 2,000 hectares, as well as 80 direct jobs at the factory.

The project includes installation of fruit juice industries, construction of a mini hydroelectric dam and primary and middle schools, a hospital and 1,700 homes, via partnerships with private entities.

"The factory will have a processing capacity of 100 tons of cassava per day, which will lead to 25 tons of starch and 35 tons of husk, which will be used for animal feed," he said.

The beneficiaries of this project will receive training in drawing up and managing budgets, use and protection of water sources and preparation of soil, amongst other matters, both in Brazil and locally.

Schuler also told Angop that Santa Cruz University had broad-ranging experience of cassava production.

With four campuses, Santa Cruz do Sul, Sobradinho, Capão da Canoa and Venâncio Aires, the University of Santa Cruz do Sul currently has 525 professors and over 11,000 students. (macauhub)

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Solomon Islands Looks to Cassava

Solomon Islands are exploring the possibility of engaging in large scale export of cassava to the Canadian market.

Speaking during a media conference this week Minister of Foreign Affairs, Peter Shanel, has confirmed holding bilateral talks with Canada on the possibility of exporting cassava.

Peter Shanel, who arrived early this week from New York, said that instead of selling cassava at local markets, farmers will be able to sell their products for much better returns overseas.

The cassava export markets are primarily in Europe and North America, which includes Canada. There are a number of important but smaller markets in Asia, such as Japan, Korea and China.

An expert in agricultural export says that there are certain barriers the Solomon Islands should be aware of should it choose to enter the cassava market.

"There are issues such as quality requirements, variability in price, and the established contacts between European and North American importers such as Canada with other major exporters such as Thailand and Indonesia."

"This is not to say that other cassava producing countries cannot enter these markets, but they need to realize that the export market is not for all cassava producing countries."

The expert says that for the Solomon Islands, one of the key requirements that must be considered carefully is that of quality, "they have to meet internationally accepted standards in order to enter the Canadian market."

"I think one of the first step government should do is to set up its own testing facilities, to ensure that cassava and other crops qualify for these markets, it is a hugely lucrative market not just for cassava but other root crops, but the barriers to entry is quite high - but not impossible to reach."

Research has shown that the annual growth rate of fresh cassava imports into Canada is 30%, proving it to be one of the more lucrative markets for cassava.

In recent times Canada imported well over 2,900 metric tonnes of fresh, dried, chilled and frozen cassava.

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Cassava exports decline by 18%

Viet Nam exported 70,000 tonnes of cassava and cassava-based products worth US$30 million in September, according to a report published by the General Statistics Office.

Last month's figures brought the country's total export value during the first nine months to $384 million, a year-on-year decrease of 18.1 per cent.

Director of the Information and Statistics Centre under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Viet Chien attributed the decline to waning Chinese consumption.

"China consumes 90 per cent of Viet Nam's cassava and cassava-based exports products. They have stopped importing the goods due to the products' high price," said Chien.

The national cassava export market last year was hectic and it pushed up prices during the beginning of this year, said Chien.

According to a ministry report, about 87 large and 300 small-sized manufacturers process cassava in Viet Nam. Each year, the manufacturers produce 985,000 tonnes of starch and 150,000 tonnes of cassava.

In the past few years, cassava plantation shrank because of the crop's low demand. However, cassava demand has increased because the crop is used to produce feed and ethanol.

Viet Nam is the second leading cassava exporter in the world.

The ministry wants to create national quality and manufacturing standards to further develop the cassava-export sector.

Setting up a cassava manufacturers' association should also be launched, reported the ministry.

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