Benin Republic gets two additional cassava processing centers
The Cassava Value Chain Development Project has inaugurated two additional processing centers in Lanta and Adjahonmey in Benin Republic, bringing the total number of processing centers in that country under the project to four, thanks to the Netherlands–based Common Fund for Commodities (CFC)—the initiator and financier of the project.
The additional two centers will help resource-poor farmers in Benin to add value to the root crop and create more markets for its products.
In 2009 the Cassava Value Chain Development Project, which is being implemented by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, commissioned two cassava processing centers in the Republic of Benin. Impressed by the work done, CFC approved the upgrade of two additional processing sites for the smallholder communities.
Beneficiaries of the project commended IITA and CFC for citing the project in their communities.
Mrs. Kodo Lydia, a women leader, whose group benefited from the project at Lanta said the processing center was a dream come true.
"When we were told of the assistance, we never believed but today we are glad and the processing center will ease our burden and increase our incomes," she said.
The commissioning attracted the attention of policy makers, non governmental organizations, and other stakeholders.
Coordinators from other CFC-West Africa countries; Nigeriaand Sierra Leonealso attended the commissioning and thereafter, participated in the experience-sharing meeting among the countries.
The three country coordinators lauded the CFC for the livelihood-boosting project.
According to Dr. Sahr Fomba, the Country Coordinator for Sierra Leone, the project's focus on the rural population and medium scale farmers is turning around the fortunes of cassava in Sierra Leone.
"Already the model setting up the processing centers is attracting other donors to the project. They want to adopt the same approach," he added. Fomba said farmers now have more hygienic cassava products such as garri and cassava bread that are widely consumed in Sierra Leone.
For Mrs. Omololu Ope-Ewe, the Country Coordinator for Nigeria, the project is adding value to cassava and opening new markets for cassava products especially in the northern part of Nigeria.
"One of the centers is now processing odorlessfufu flour that is in high demand. We are presently assisting the center to get government approval for commercialization," she said.
"To us in Nigeria, the project is timely and we are glad CFC invested in Nigeria," she added.
For David Agbewonu, Country Coordinator for the Republic of Benin, the project is a reference point to other donors in the country. "This is because of the impact it is already having on the communities," he said.
With its relative ease of cultivation backed by research activities at IITA, cassava has gained appeal from farmers ranking among the most preferred crops for cultivation in Africa.
Breeding work at IITA and national partners has equally boosted the production of the crop with some countries doubling yield.
Prof. Lateef Sanni, IITA-CFC Coordinator, said apart from building and equipping the processing centers, the project would provide the necessary trainings to make it sustainable.