A farmer group in FRB’s Tanzania-Sengerema program is processing freshly-harvested cassava (a starchy tuber) into clean, high-quality flour, and packaging it on-site. The 82-member group, including 44 women, is satisfying the high demand for the product at market, and bringing in good income.The group grows, harvests and peels the cassava, grates it and presses out the moisture using a machine designed and made by local entrepreneurs from the Sengerema Informal Sector Association (SISA), and picks out woody fibers as the grated cassava dries in the sun for two hours.
When the moisture content is below 10%, it is milled into flour with another SISA-made machine, and bagged. The finished product can be used immediately, or stored for up to a year. With SISA’s help, the group has obtained certification for labelling their packages, and can now sell its flour in commercial markets in nearby towns, which further increases profits.
Cassava flour, a rich source of carbohydrates, is a staple food in Tanzania, and is used to make porridge-like ugali to eat with beans, vegetables or meat. Drying the cassava and processing it into flour has always been time consuming and labor intensive. It used to take the group ten days to get its value-added product ready. With SISA’s training and the processing machines the group bought collectively, they now do it in six hours!
One of the group members, Mrs. Lung’wecha, spoke about the many benefits of using the new approach. “It used to be a very difficult and tiring job for us women to peel and dry the cassava,” she said. “Now we are free to do our other work and look after our children. The money we earn from selling the flour pays our children’s school fees.”
With less time needed to process the cassava, all group members have more time to diversify their incomes by growing other crops, such as corn or groundnuts (peanuts), or by raising chickens. The eggs and meat from the chickens are a good source of protein which, together with cassava and the greater variety of vegetables being grown, results in a much more nutritious diet.
The community is being transformed through this process. The farmers are proud of and energized by their new knowledge, their achievements and results, and the spin-off benefits of economic development and healthier families.
by Chris Enns, World Renew Program Consultant
Foods Resource Bank’s Tanzania Sengerema program is led by World Renew with local partner Sengerema Informal Sector Association (SISA). Tanzania-Sengerema encompasses 16 communities, 1760 households and 8800 individuals.