In a bid to showcase the possibility of strengthening investment opportunities along the cassava value chain, Africa Innovations Institute (AfrII) through its Cassava: Adding Value for Africa (C:AVA) project displayed a cake baked with 90% High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) and 10% wheat flour at the three-day Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Event in Kampala from 6-8th March 2014. The event, which attracted over 5000 SMEs drew over 1000 entrepreneurs, farmers, CBOs and FBOs to taste the product and learn how to profit from Cassava, an indigenous crop in Uganda.
Due to the overwhelming interest in the innovation, AfrII's Business Development Specialist Ms. Gloria Okello was invited to make a presentation on the extensive investment opportunities available for HQCF to 5000 SMEs, private companies and parastatals at the event. This availed the institute a chance to raise awareness about HQCF, the process of its development, its uses, and profitability.
Participants in the plenary expressed concerns about the diversity of cassava based on the limited information available about its markets and diversity. They also inquired after the recommended cassava varieties and investment costs. For SMEs in the baking industry, high interest was expressed in the possibility of substituting wheat flour for cassava flour, which is a much cheaper and more readily available option.
Ms. Okello readily provided proof of the high demand for the HQCF and informed participants about the limited competition on the market for investors. For the plenary of farmers seeking opportunities to invest profitably in the agricultural sector, the presentation was an eye opener on the emerging potential of HQCF as an innovative option both for individual profitability as well as the advancement of the back bone of Uganda's economy.
In addition, a baker from Pallisa Agri-business Training Association (PATA), one of AfrII's farmer associations in eastern Uganda presented other products developed by the association from 100% HQCF including cookies, queen cakes and bhagiya. Ms. Naomi Mwidu took time to describe the baking process to interested farmers and bakers alike, as well as shared the success of HQCF in bakeries and other industries in Kadama district through PATA. Her perspective provided participants with a clear picture of the actual process and requirements for success along the value chain.
The diversity and high quality of the products drew appreciation from bakers and farming groups alike, thus resulting in several invitations to train farmers from various regions in the country on the process of developing HQCF as well as using it in the baking industry, a prominent and boisterous sector in Uganda, which has been overrun with expensive prices of wheat flour and a weak economic sector. Farmers and business people alike were grateful for the opportunity to promote local investment, boost the economy and support local farmers in the country to increase their wealth.
The Cassava: Adding Value for Africa (C:AVA) project has developed value chains for HQCF in Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania, Nigeria and Malawi to improve the livelihoods and incomes of at least 90,000 smallholder households as direct beneficiaries including women and disadvantaged groups. C:AVA is supported by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) through the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) of the University of Greenwich.
C:AVA promotes the use of HQCF as a versatile raw material for which diverse markets exist. In Uganda it is supporting at least 8,000 smallholder households as direct beneficiaries, including women and disadvantaged groups.
Story compiled by:
Nancy Nandudu, Information and Public Relations Officer
Africa Innovations Institute, Uganda