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Masaka farmers get cassava drying machine to add value, improve incomes

Masaka, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | More than 300 farmers under Masaka District Farmers Association -MADIFA have received a cassava drying and processing machine to improve on value addition, quick processing of making cassava flour, and increase their incomes.

The 35million Shilling machine is a donation from Vi-Agroforestry, a development organisation fighting poverty and climate change in collaboration with farmer’s groups and organisations, advising and training farmers in sustainable agricultural land management.

Masaka is one of the districts in the southern region known for cassava growing. The farmers have been relying on the open sun-drying system of several tons of cassava which would compromise the quality and required standards on the market. Jane Francis Nabukenya, one of the farmers says that the market price for dried cassava will significantly increase as the production of quality cassava flour will improve for the benefit of the farmers.

She adds that open drying and poor handling usually affect the quality of cassava flour due to the toxic mould that grows on it as a result of poor storage. Nabukenya says that some farmers had given up on growing cassava due to the post-harvest losses when tons of sliced cassava is rejected in the market.

John Bosco Ssekiwunga, the association chairman says they first got the cassava chipping machine which mainly cuts the fresh cassava roots into chips before going for the dryer.  Ssekiwunga adds that the drying machine will enable them to meet the demand since it can dry their cassava in one day to save more time and money.

He noted that they have been suffering due to unfavourable weather conditions that delay the drying process. He adds that they usually lose tons of cassava that go bad due to poor handling and lack of value addition machinery and modern technology to solve the problem.

The cassava usually does not dry quick enough to meet customer orders and is susceptible to contamination from soil, wind and birds, among others.

Esther Kwagala, a daily consumer of cassava flour says that in the past four months, they were buying one kilogram between 800 and 1000 shillings yet the quality was wanting.

However, the price has gone up to 1,200 in the recent two weeks which she attributes to improved quality through value addition.

Abdullah Nasuru, an official from Vi Agroforestry-Masaka, says they supported the farmers to improve food security in the region. He adds that they encourage farmers to engage in agro-forestry to fight climate change which greatly affects their farming activities in the region.



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