While the cassava sector continues to play a critical role in Central Africa in terms of income generation, food security and job creation for rural communities, unleashing its full economic potential has proved challenging. For millions of central African smallholders, the road to urban food markets leads through the nascent agricultural processing sector, especially staple foods such as cassava. However, although industrial cassava processing (cassava starch and high-quality cassava flour) is often described as a potentially great opportunity for local agro-food industries to reduce their imports, this is not yet economically and financially sustainable in the current economic conditions in the region. Furthermore, industrial demand is still limited compared to the total urban household demand for traditional cassava processed products.
With a growing urban population and increase in middle-class income, cassava is becoming a strategic staple food that can not only respond to food security objectives but also be the basis for innovative and sustainable business models, especially for women and youth. This potential was confirmed by a series of small grants projects launched by CTA in April 2017 in Cameroon, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Building on these previous projects and engagement with particular cooperatives, this new 2-year project, Accelerating Innovative and Sustainable Cassava Business Models for Women and Youth in Central Africa (Manioc21), aims to fine-tune and accelerate innovative and new business models that create market linkages and promote added-value activities to be scaled-up at the regional level.
Building on previous engagement with some cooperatives (i.e. SOCOOPMATPA in Cameroon) through CTA’s partnership with regional farmers’ organisations, the Pan-African Farmers Organisation (PAFO) and AgriCord, the project will launch initial activities in Cameroon and DRC. The aim will be to gradually increase the number of cooperatives supported across Central Africa.
This project will differentiate itself from other projects in the region through its strong business approach (using SCOPEInsight private sector tools) and robust curricula and training modules co-developed with IFC/World Bank and the University of Missouri, along with its unique partnership with the regional farmers organisation, PROPAC, and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). The initiative will also connect directly the business incubators/accelerators developed by IITA through the African Development Bank-funded ‘ENABLE Youth’ programmes in both countries where youth will be trained and eventually become service providers to the cassava cooperatives.
The 2018-2019 project will focus on the following activities:
- Strengthen the business/entrepreneurship/technical skills of women and youth-led cassava cooperatives through business accelerators;
- Develop and facilitate the adoption of adapted processing equipment and ICT tools for improved farm business management;
- Promote access to innovative financing schemes;
- Develop new market linkages including with agribusinesses and institutional buyers (e.g. WFP);
- Document experiences of the business partnerships for sharing and scaling up.
The project aims to contribute to increased income opportunities, enhanced food security as well as promoting decent jobs for women and youth through the development of innovative and sustainable business models for cassava value chains and new markets. This will be achieved through:
in volumes and quality of
cassava added-value products marketed by women and youth-led cooperatives;
- Innovative cassava development business models (including ICT-based
models) used for job creation among women and youth.
Specifically, the project will work to upgrade 10 cooperatives in Cameroon and DRC and directly interact with a total of 10,000 active cassava producers/processors (approximately 1,000 active members per cooperative) targeting 80% women with a further 50,000 reached indirectly. The initiative will also directly impact on 5,000 households (approximately 40,000 direct consumers) and create 750 new jobs (as new positions in the cooperatives s and self-employment in micro-enterprises providing services to the coops).