In April, Kinazi Cassava Plant commenced operations. Financed and owned by Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD), the Frw 6 billion plant located in Kinazi sector, Ruhango is a success story that has helped local cassava farmers improve yields and in turn increase their revenue. The plant was conceived by the government in order to encourage the growing of cassava in the country.
The ultra-modern facility, which has been producing high quality flour since mid April, has not only become a sustainable market for local farmers, but also made them more credible when seeking bank loans to expand their income-generating activities.
Ephron Harelimana, a local farmer who has benefitted from the plant’s processing wing said that in the past their cassava never found market because it was usually poorly processed. According to Harelimana, the plant has made life easier because it buys their cassava straight from the field, and the money is usually invested in other income-generating activities.
“In the past, we spent a lot of time cultivating the crop, processing it and then hunting for buyers. We never had a fixed price. So buyers would propose a price, which we would often take – however low – because we had no choice,” he told The Rwanda Focus recently.
Harelimana is not the only one enjoying the advantages of the ‘cassava plant-farmer’ collaboration, but also many others in Ruhango, Muhanga, Gisagara, Kamonyi, Nyanza and Bugesera districts – a region famed for cassava production.
According to Justin Ngoga, one of the agronomists working hand in hand with the cassava farmers to help them increase their production, the farmers can now harvest between 20 and 40 tons per hectare – and generate revenue of around Frw 2 million per hectare. The farmers say they use about Frw 600,000 to produce cassava on one hectare, fertilizers inclusive.
To ensure that the plant gets enough raw materials, Robert Runazi, the managing director of the plant, says that about 12,050 hectares are now ready to grow more cassava.
According to Runazi, projected production of the cassava from the new cultivated hectares will necessitate the installation of two more factories.
For the plant management, production of high quality cassava flour is not the limit. Runazi says they have plans to start producing starch from cassava by January. The starch can be used in making medicine, clothes, bread and granite among others. Evidently, the production of the starch will fuel the establishment of other factories like textile, bread, construction materials, and medicine factories.
“This is really an added value to the crop grown by local farmers,” he said, adding that this will boost national export since the plant will produce a range of high quality products needed across the world.
So far, the plant is striving to expand its market at both local and international market. Apart from the local market, Runazi confirms that they are already exporting their produce to the UK, France and Belgium.
“We are committed to make cassava farming an attractive industry for businesspeople who want to invest their money with assurance to get back their investment with high profits,” Runazi points out. “This is the only ideal way to value cassava farmers’ work.”