[Zimbabwe] Musika, Kemiko partnership provides ready market for 1,000 cassava growers
Musika has signed an agreement with Kemiko Limited, a Small Medium Enterprise (SME) that operates a starch and cassava flour processing plant, to help increase its processing capacity and provide a secure and ready market to 1,000 smallholder cassava growers in Zimbabwe’s Northern and Luapula province.
The partnership is part of ongoing 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 has financed the procurement of a cassava dryer 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.
“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,” explained Musika Head of Corporate Affairs, Pamela Hamasaka.
As a result of Musika’s intervention, Kemiko Limited 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. This will assist the company to meet the demand for High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) and starch that it supplies to the confectionary industry and other processors on the Copperbelt.
Musika has also provided logistical support through a motorbike to enable Kemiko Limited to establish a cassava outgrower improvement program meant to train and provide extension support to farmers, aimed at increasing their knowledge on the requirements of the market in terms of preferred cassava varieties.
As part of its overall strategy, Musika supports the development of a conducive environment for farmer behaviour change towards a more diverse range of production options.
“Diversifying production at the smallholder farmer level require specific interventions that will enable the retail industry to provide relevant inputs, technologies and associated information, and also a commodities industry that offers assured markets, extension and other market services around the production of multiple crops including the more drought tolerant legumes and cereals,” said Hamasaka.
The range of production systems on which Musika is focusing includes but is not limited to legumes and drought tolerant crops such as groundnuts, cowpeas, pigeon peas and cassava, which have proven to offer climate resilient production options that also engage large numbers of women farmers.