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Govt working on strategies to address cassava demand rise

by Grace Kisembo

In order to meet the current rise in foreign demand for cassava products of over 2 million tonnes per year especially from China, the government is working on a variety of steps.

In May 2017, Tanzania signed phy-tosanitary protocol with people of the United Republic of China as bilateral business development that apart from permitting local companies to trade with China, it also opened market access for dry cassava from Tanzania.

Currently, there are at least six local registered companies introduced in China for dry cassava exportation, but the country has yet to reap the economic fortunes from the promised market due to some setbacks negating the country’s cassava production chain.

Director for Crops in the Ministry of Agriculture, Nyasebwa Chimagu, said serious interventions were afoot to push for the general performance of the sub-sector, especially on production and productivity.

Among others, he expressed that the target is to scale- up cassava production from the current eight tonnes to at least 16 tonnes per hectare through the adoption of improved technology.

“We’ll also continue with efforts to breed more cassava varieties which are pest and disease tolerant, but with high yielding potentials. Authorised seed inspectors will effectively also be trained to professionally facilitate the production of quality seed,” added the director.

To improve agronomic services and technologies to farmers, he said the government through the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and other technology developers have so far developed agronomic packages such as correct spacing, planting technique, fertiliser rates, weed management, pest and disease management as well as time and harvesting technologies.

“The technologies are being disseminated to farmers through various ways, including demo plots in major cassava growing areas, SMS, APP packaging with a specific technology and radio programmes,” said Mr Chimagu.

He further said the China’s cassava market is very promising and open to everyone, adding that the government is working to provide all necessary measures to facilitate market accessibility.

According to him, as per set China’s market requirements, the exported products should be free from pest and diseases, free from contaminants such as sand, metal contamination and free from pesticide residues.

“Also, the products must be packaged in new packaging materials that conform with Chinese requirements,” said Mr Chimagu.

Elaborating, the director said the pests and diseases of concern by China are Prostephanus truncatus (Horn), Trogoderma granarium Events, and Phenacoccus manihoti (Matije Ferrer).

Others are Sinoxylon conigerum Gerstaecker, Achatina Fulica, Meloidogyne spp, Oxalias latifolia Kunth, African cassava mosaic virus (ACMV), Xanthomonas axonopodispv.maniho (Bondar), Vauterin et al, and Cassava Brown Streak Virus (CBSV).

Due to prolonged rainfall and existence of Covid 19, no cassava was exported in 2020.

However, the world price of dry cassava is relatively low that do not match with current costs of production in Tanzania.

Tanzania export small quantities of cassava and cassava products, mainly dry chips to Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Kenya, China, Oman and United Emirates, the exportation which saw the country fetch at least 12.93million US Dollars in a period between 2016 and 2018.

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