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Farmers engaged in cassava value addition in the Lango region are smiling home after an upgrade from open air processing to use of high precision indoor modern cassava flash dryers, a technology that offers the best answer to weather challenges especially during wet seasons when cassava processing comes under burdens of rains, thus affecting the quality of the end product as it takes longer to dry and is also exposed to contaminations of all sorts. 75% of the farming households in Northern Uganda grow cassava, a crop the region highly depends on as a staple.
The flash dryer is a state of the art machine designed to dry wet cassava mash extracted from the cassava graters into High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) within 3 minutes ready for human and commercial use. The technology was introduced to investors of Wind Wood Millers Limited and Adyaka Wholesalers Limited in Lira and Apac districts, Northern Uganda, under the Cassava Adding Value for Africa- Phase Two (CAVA II) project implemented by the Africa Innovations Institute (AfrII).
The Country Manager CAVA II Uganda, Mr. Francis Alacho says the industrial potential in cassava is high and technologies such as the flash dryer will greatly release this potential. He says “cassava has for a long time been traditionally taken as a famine crop grown mainly to ensure food security in homes, and largely regarded as a food for the poor. But, research on the crop has shown its versatility as a highly commercial crop used in various industries.” “|If processed, you end up with raw materials that many industries need.” He adds.
Realizing this potential, the CAVA Project provided technical back stopping, knowledge and skills development to beneficiaries trained in value addition along the cassava value chain. “As CAVA II project, engaged in increasing the income of smaller holder farmers through participation in profitable, sustainable value addition, we sold the idea to commercial farmers where to find modern Flash Dryers to up their value addition capacity. Ours is to make linkages for technologies, markets and high improved yielding cassava varieties to farmers,” he adds.
CAVA II Uganda Country Manager, Mr. Francis Alacho speaks about the profitability of the flash dryer technology during an interview in his office at the AfrII premises in Bukoto, Kampala.
Mr. Alacho says the project’s intervention has opened doors to other actors who now realize the potential of cassava as an industrial crop and are now taking initiative to prioritize it.
One of the investors in the technology, Mr. Ivan Okori, the Managing Director at Wind Wood Millers cassava factory in Lira, says the Flash Dryer is sky rocketing processing of fresh cassava tubers into High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF). “The Flash Dryer guarantees constant processing of fresh tubers into quality flour, irrespective of the weather burdens. We no longer rely on sunshine to guarantee output,” says Okori.
Mr. Ivan Okori, the Managing Director of WindWood Millers cassava flash dryer factory in Lira, in an interview with local press during the media tour to witness and widely publicize the two state of the art processing facilities in Lira and Apac districts.
He adds that the factory is constantly supplied fresh cassava root tubers by over 1,000 farmers across the region that have been contracted to supply these on a daily basis to sustain the day to day running of the machine.
Peelers employed by Windwood Millers Limited cassava factory engage in peeling fresh cassava root to be processed into HQCF. These earn between 5000 to 10,000 shillings per day at the factory.
In his experience with the technology, Mr. Sam Opio Ochieng, the proprietor Adyaka Wholesalers Cassava flash dryer factory in Apac district, attests that investment in the machine is highly profiting him as a cassava processor of the Hiqh Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) that he produces in large volumes using the high tech machinery.
The technology has the capacity to process 3 to 7 tons of HQCF in a shift per day.
Mr. Sam Opio of Adyaka Wholesalers Cassava flash dryer factory in Apac district speaks to local press on why he chose to invest in the flash dryer, as a prominent cassava farmer in Lango region.
As a Cassava Seed Entrepreneur (CSE), Opio owns over 300 acres of clean cassava gardens in Apac district. Having these gardens has sustained fresh cassava root supply to the factory.
Investment in this technology requires one to have 300 to 500 million Uganda shillings.
CAVA II Uganda has linked cassava processors and SME’s to emerging HQCF markets in the pharmaceuticals, breweries, composite flour millers, biscuit, yogurt, sausage, paperboard and bakery industries. The project has so far reached 18,000 beneficiaries including smallholder cassava farmers, Community Processing groups, and SME’s along the cassava value chain in Eastern, Northern and Central Uganda.
The CAVA II project is implemented in 5 African countries of Uganda, Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania and Ghana with funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through the Natural Resources Research Institute-University of Greenwich-UK (NRI).