ZAMBIA – Musika, a non-profit company with focus on stimulating private investment in the Zambian agricultural sector has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kemiko ltd, a SME that operates a starch and cassava flour processing plant.
The aim of the MoU is to boost Kemiko’s processing capacity and provide a secure and ready market to about 1,000 smallholder cassava growers in Northern and Luapula province.
Kemiko has anticipated to buy over 360 tonnes of cassava from the farmers with buying exercise scheduled to commence by end of May 2020.
With both parties not disclosing the value of the investment, the cassava acquired will be processed into cassava meal and cassava flour.
Some of the top targeted clients include the mining sector, breweries, supermarkets, pharmaceuticals, bakeries for meal and flours and the retail sectors.
The partnership is part of on-going efforts by Musika to promote the commercialization of cassava and its by-products by facilitating a guaranteed market for the crop, which in turn is expected to stimulate increased production and increase incomes at farmer level.
Musika Head of Corporate Affairs Pamela Hamasaka disclosed to the Zambian Business Times that Musika will finance the procurement of a cassava dryers which will enable Kemiko Limited to purchase fresh cassava tubers in addition to the dried cassava chips already being supplied by farmers, thereby providing a consistent market for both fresh and dried cassava all year round.
Pamela added that Musika has also provided logistical support to enable Kemiko Limited to establish a cassava outgrower improvement program meant to train and provide extension support to farmers.
“Though Cassava can be harvested all year round, trade is highly seasonal because farmers and processors are in most cases primarily dependent on sun drying.”
“This has resulted in a situation where farmers have little or no market for fresh cassava especially during the wet months, leaving them with no option but to leave it in the ground until the next opportunity to sell or when it can be consumed at household level,” she explained.
As a result of Musika’s intervention, Kemiko anticipates an increase in their processing capacity per month by almost 80% as the amount of dry cassava chips delivered by smallholder farmers is expected to increase from the current 40 metric tons per month to 200 metric tons of fresh cassava tubers per month.
Cassava has been grown traditionally in Zambia and has multiple industrial uses.
Its commercial exploitation has been limited but this is destined to change as the demand for cassava flour for industrial uses is projected to continue increasing due to its high starch content.