Busia, Kenya – Cassava production in the region has undergone a remarkable transformation, thanks to a project implemented by Self Help Africa and funded by the European Union (EU). Kenyan farmer Simon Okedi, from Busia, attests to the positive impact of the initiative, which has opened up new market opportunities for smallholder farmers.
Cassava, a root vegetable and staple food in many parts of Africa, presents challenges due to its limited shelf life. Farmers often have to harvest small quantities at a time and sell them in local markets, leaving the rest unused or allowing excess produce to rot or be fed to animals. However, as part of the project, an aggregation center called Asinge has been established in Busia to address these challenges.
At the Asinge aggregation center, large quantities of cassava from the region are brought together, processed, packaged, and sold in bulk to large-scale buyers. This approach has revolutionized the market for smallholder farmers, including those in remote areas, as they can now access new markets and sell their cassava in larger quantities.
Simon, now the vice-chair of the Asinge aggregation center, expresses his satisfaction with the project’s success. He notes that he is busier and continuously learning as part of the initiative. Simon’s enthusiasm for scaling up the project further is evident, and he takes pride in the accomplishments of the group thus far. The farmers involved in the project have ambitious plans for the future, as they continue to benefit from the aggregation center.
One key aspect of the project is the provision of training and improved access to high-quality seeds. Approximately 90 percent of the cassava being grown as part of the project is using improved seed varieties obtained from the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and other suppliers. These improved varieties result in faster maturity and enhanced food safety.
The project, titled ‘Strengthening the Competitiveness of the Cassava Value Chain in Kenya,’ is funded by the EU and implemented in collaboration with the Ugunja Community Research Centre, USTADI Foundation, Rafiki Microfinance, and Imarika SACCO. Together, these organizations are working to empower smallholder farmers, enhance market opportunities, and strengthen the cassava value chain in Kenya.
With the successful establishment of the Asinge aggregation center and the adoption of improved cassava varieties, the project is making a significant difference in the lives of Kenyan farmers, paving the way for increased incomes, improved food security, and a brighter future for cassava cultivation in the region.