The Ghana Export-Import Bank (Exim Bank), a lead export finance and development bank, is to disburse about GH₵15million to 10 medium enterprises under the Cassava Enterprise Project (CEP).
The funds, which are in the form of a soft loan, are estimated to help the selected cassava farmers cultivate about 500 acres of cassava each – which translates to 5,000 acres in total.
The ten selected clients will also receive planting materials, technical support and will be linked to existing cassava factories for off-taking, or processing the raw material into chips for export.
The Chief Executive Officer-Exim Bank, Lawrence Agyinsam, speaking in a stakeholder consultation forum organised under CEP, also indicated that the three enterprises which preform best out of the ten will benefit from a fully-paid sponsored trip to Thailand.
“This is born out of the desire to take advantage of potentials in the cassava industry, while tackling the challenges therein. CEP has planned to improve and commercialise cassava through cultivation, processing, and marketing of its derivatives.
“The aim of the forum was to brief invited stakeholders on the project’s goals, objectives and expectations; and it is expected that it will serve as a platform for networking among the various industry actors,” he said.
Ghana produces about 16 million tonnes of cassava, of which an estimated 11 million tonnes is available for human consumption. However, only four million tonnes are consumed, leaving approximately seven million tonnes surplus. CEP seeks to address this through the creation of facilities or avenues for processing, so as to avoid losses to farmers.
Mr Agyinsam further elaborated the specific aims of CEP as: developing and strengthening access to inputs; ensuring adequate and sustainable production and processing along the value chain; improving the capacity of smallholder farmers and fostering entrepreneurial mindset; improving access to finance along the value chain; and improving access to technology for processing.
The Managing Director of Maphlix Trust Ghana Ltd., Felix Yao Kamassah, shared his experience on demand for cassava products from Ghana in the European Countries, as they believe in quality.
“I was in Germany at Food Logistical’s premises three weeks ago, and a company approached me that they wanted 200 metric tonnes of cassava flour and 1,000 metric tonnes of gari to EU markets every month.
“Ghana gari, they said is organic and tastes better than others from around the world, but we do not have a network market so it is difficult to get that large quantity to export; and I am now looking for partners so we can mobilise to supply the required quantity,” he said.
Currently, industrial possibilities for cassava in Ghana are in the production of starch and high-quality cassava flour – ignoring other derivatives from cassava such as ethanol, glucose syrup and chips, which when given attention will increase the utilisation of cassava and stimulate increased production.
The largest opportunity for cassava industrialisation in Ghana is ethanol for domestic consumption, food-grade starch for export to regional markets, and high-quality cassava flour for the domestic market.