Kwesi Korboe (left), Managing Director of GIRSAL, in conversation with Professor Emmanuel YH Bobobee (middle) of KNUST Agricultural Engineering Department, and Chris Quashie (right), Chairman of GICSP. Photo: ESTHER ADJORKOR ADJEI
Stakeholders in the cassava value chain have called for deliberate value addition and financing policies to industrialize the sector.
They said such a move would not only lead to job creation and improved livelihoods but also reduce the import of cassava products, adding that the sector has the potential to contribute to accelerated development. from the country.
The country ranks among the top five cassava producers in Africa, with at least 18 varieties of improved cassava produced in commercial quantities.
Stakeholders, which included farmers, processors, transporters, civil society organizations, buyers, consumers and financial institutions, were speaking at the first multi-stakeholder cassava forum in Accra yesterday.
It was organized by the Ghana Incentive-based Risk-sharing System for Agriculture Lending (GIRSAL), in partnership with the Development Bank, Ghana (DBG) and the Ghana Industrial Cassava Stakeholder Platform (GICSP).
One of the objectives of the forum was to identify opportunities and key challenges facing the national cassava ecosystem industrialization program and key interventions that would support solutions for an effective and efficient value chain articulated around large, small and medium processors.
Participants also discussed issues of food security, job creation, reduction of imports and providing a channel for consistent financing of specific commodities.
GICSP Chairman Chris Quarshie said the high starch content of cassava root was an important characteristic that made the crop a potential industrial cash crop.
He said ethanol could be derived from cassava starch, while food-grade starch could also be used for industrial purposes.
According to him, local ethanol-consuming industry used imported raw materials for production due to insufficient supply of ethanol from local starch factories due to lack of cassava varieties that could produce more starch. to power factories for sustainable production.
“We need to intensify the cultivation of the right variety for export and import substitution,” he said.
Citing data from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Quarshie said the country produces 18 million tonnes of cassava annually, consumes around eight million tonnes and has an annual surplus of 10 million tonnes which “is not uprooted and left in the ground to rot”. .
“We have cassava, but we need to get the variety that is high in starch, high yielding and will be of interest to industries,” he said.
He said cassava had a low risk profile and matured between 20 and 24 months, depending on the variety, and called for proactive policies, funding and capacity building for industry players.
Managing Director of Bankyekrom Limited, Sarpei Kwadey, said “all parts of the country can grow cassava”.
According to him, a high percentage of cultivated cassava was not uprooted and only 0.5% was processed, while 70% was produced by smallholders.
“We need huge tracts of land to grow cassava on a large scale, as well as skilled labour, mechanization and planting equipment,” he added.
DBG Managing Director Kwamena Duker said the bank is focusing on four key sectors – agribusiness, manufacturing, ICT and high value-added services.
He said cassava was the most important root crop in the country and therefore called for joint efforts to address the challenges facing the cassava sector through the collaboration of various stakeholders.