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In a bid to create investment networks across East Africa and also provide an opportunity for private sectorin the cassava value chain in the regionto experience modern trends in cassava production, processing and marketing; the Cassava Adding Value for Africa Project (CAVAII), led a group of investors on a study tour to Malawi.
The Investors drawn from Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi had an opportunity to visit a cassava multiplication field managed by Universal Farming and Milling Limited (UFML), where improved varieties are grown for distribution to clusters of smallholder farmers contracted to grow cassava to process using the flash dryer. The group witnessed different stages of flash dryer operations starting from the wet area where peeling, washing, grating and pressing takes place and the dry area where the flash dryer is located.
CAVA II Malawi facilitated the setup of flash dryer for processing high quality cassava flour (HQCF) at Universal Industries located at Njuli in Chiradzulu District, Southern Region. The four cyclone flash dryer is the first of its kind in the whole of Southern and Eastern African region. The flash dryer was purchased from Nobex in Nigeria and has capacity to process 20 tons of fresh cassava roots per day on double shift. This processing plant has facilitated establishment of a sustainable HQCF value chain targeting industrial markets such as with paperboard manufacturers and brewery industries. The flash dryer at UFML continues to play pivotal role of exciting potential investors for HQCF processing technologies and end users who have confidence on quality of products, volumes and consistency of supply.
The visit to Universal Farming and Milling Limited (UFML)aroused a lively and interesting discussion which showed that some of the potential investors were motivated with what they had seen and heard. Investors were also exposed to potential market opportunities where HQCF is incorporated such as biscuits at Universal Industries factory;and this opened up their horizons on potential markets for HQCF to pursue in their respective countries.
The Country Manager of the Cassava: Adding Value for Africa project, Malawi (CAVA II), who spoke about the objectives of the study tour pointed out that the visit provided an opportunity for investors to get clarity on businesses and investment plans which would facilitate direction and approaches for going forward in making investment plans for flash dryers. According to him, “It will expose potential investors to operating areas of the cassava value chain – production, processing and end market products.Create investment networks across Africa and provide an opportunity for private sector partners in cassava value chain to interact with each other; and it will enable the investors see efficient flash dryer in operation and learn other important activities required for effective flash dryer operations.”
Malawi has been participating in the Cassava: Adding Value for Africa Project to consolidate gains and benefits of the first phase ofthe project which was implemented from 2009 to March 2014. The CAVA II Project is led by the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta and implemented in five countries: Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Malawi, with financial assistance from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The project gets technical support from the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) of University of Greenwich in United Kingdom as well as the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and it is aimed at increasing incomes of smallholder farmers (SHFs) and community processors through participation in profitable and sustainable cassava value chains.