Only 0.5% of 18m m/t of cassava is processed


The Chief Executive Officer of Bankyekrom Limited, Sarpei Kwadey, has revealed that despite the high volumes of cassava produced in the country, only a fraction of it is processed.

According to him, 10 million metric tonnes of cassava remain un-harvested each year, while annual production amounts to 18 million metric tonnes – thereby ranking the country among the tuber’s top five producers in Africa. However, of this quantity only a measly 0.5 percent is processed.

This, he said, is worrying; given more than 70 percent of farmers in Ghana produce cassava, and the sector contributes about 22 percent of agricultural GDP.

“We need huge tracts of land to cultivate cassava on a large scale, as well as skilled labour, mechanisation and planting materials,” Mr. Kwadey said at the maiden Cassava Multi-Stakeholder Forum held in Accra and organised by the Ghana Incentive-based Risk-sharing System for Agriculture Lending (GIRSAL) in partnership with the Development Bank, Ghana (DBG) and Ghana Industrial Cassava Stakeholder Platform (GICSP).

The forum was held to identify opportunities and key challenges facing the national agenda of industrialising the cassava ecosystem, and the key interventions that would support solutions for an effective and efficient value chain pivoted around major, small and medium processors.

Chairman of the GICSP, Chris Quarshie, noted that the high starch content in cassava root is an important characteristic that makes the crop a potential industrial cash-crop. However, lack of varieties in cassava prevents starch production in large quantities; and, therefore local ethanol-consuming industries use imported raw materials for production due to inadequate supply.

He said: “This country consumes about eight million tonnes of cassava annually, and records 10 million tonnes of annual surplus that is un-harvested and left in the ground to rot. We have cassava, but we need to get the variety that is high in starch, high-yielding, and will be of interest to industries”.

Mr. Quarshie added that cassava has a low risk-profile and matures between 20 and 24 months, depending on the variety. He therefore called for proactive policies, financing and capacity building for players in the industry.

On his part, Mr. Duker of the Development Bank Ghana assured that the bank will collaborate with key stakeholders to help fund and support businesses to grow the cassava value chain.

According to him, this will be done by helping to unlock sectors with transformational potential and providing thought-leadership on policy development to stimulate a conducive environment for agri-businesses.

“This we will do through our holistic approach to combine finance, capacity-building and market development.”

Mr. Duker explained that DBG focuses on four key sectors: agribusiness, manufacturing, ICT and high value services.

“The importance of unlocking value within key agriculture value chains must not be understated. So, that explains why we are here today as a sponsor for this event.”

He added that DBG’s mandate is to grow the private sector, and unlock growth for the economy by working constructively with stakeholders to address the finance gap for long-term capital in a catalytic way – while delivering a beneficial Ghanaian credit market that works for everyone sustainably.

He called for urgent action through a joint effort to address challenges faced in the cassava sector. “We need to do it differently. What does this mean? We need to collaborate on setting new standards together, and this requires that we have authentic conversations. We are here this morning to roll-up our sleeves and work together to come up with solutions which allow us to take the important next steps.”


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