Cassava is traditionally grown by large number of smallholder farmers. Each farmer usually cultivates less than 2ha in scattered plots. Meanwhile, emerging markets for High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) make orders and expect deliveries in large quantities (average is 33Mt/delivery) in systems that are not currently set up to accommodate a large number of variable quality suppliers.
The key challenge to linking cassava farmers to the large markets for HQCF therefore is one of aggregation and facilitation of delivery of HQCF to factories through a value chain originating from several small farmers (Figure 1).
There are a number of ways to overcome this challenge and the preferred option will vary from one country or region to another. Where the value chain is relatively well established (like Nigeria and Ghana), the introduction of artificial dryers capable of processing 1-3Mt of HQCF/day (single shift) could help to locate intermediary processing closer to the sources of fresh cassava roots and/or provide intermediate bulking/aggregation and transportation services in addition to maintaining an acceptable quality of products delivered to the end use market. Where the value chain is relatively young and the technology gap is more difficult to overcome in the short-run, the services of bulking/aggregation of high quality cassava grits (Figure 2) will have to be provided by an entity (a farmers' association or an entrepreneur) who could also provide a milling service. This is because grits can be more easily collected from a large number of farmer-processors for bulking and the quality parameters for grits are more easily maintained than for flour.