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Cassava commercialisation will transform Uganda

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Added 20th October 2019 05:19 PM

Cassava is widely used in most tropical areas for feeding pigs, cattle, sheep and poultry

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Cassava is widely used in most tropical areas for feeding pigs, cattle, sheep and poultry

By Augustine Otuko

For a long time now, His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni has consistently advanced the message of wealth creation through commercialized agriculture (Farming with Ekibalo). What was/is not coming out clearly through his message is the aspect of cassava commercialization and industrialization until recently in the wealth creation tours in Teso and Lango where he made mention of it.

Under Vision 2040, the government of Uganda aspires to reach middle income status by pursuing a series of policies, strategies and plans to achieve this goal. Despite the peace and stability in the country and several intervention programmes such as entandikwa, PRDP, NUSAF, Youth Livelihood, Women Fund etc, Northern and north Eastern Uganda have continued to lag behind the rest of the country in terms of development and wealth creation.

A comprehensive Analysis of the Northern and North Eastern Economies indicates that raising agricultural productivity and output; increasing farmer’s access to markets, would increase the greater north agricultural output, boost it’s GDP, enlarge opportunity for employment and household income thus reducing poverty. This is achievable through promoting private sector value chain development and removing private market bottlenecks, building sustainable and inclusive commodity sector development.

Researchers have identified cassava as one of the commodities with greater comparative advantage in poverty eradication in the greater north regions. In addition, Cassava has a strategic role in ensuring resilience to the adverse effects of climate change. There are great opportunities for cassava to contribute to increased household income and poverty reduction.

Massive commercialization of cassava will also attract a number of investments along cassava value chain within the Sub-region thereby increasing production and productivity, ensuring food and nutrition security, creating employment, increasing household incomes and overall poverty eradication.

Important to note first is that cassava is one of the most important sources of Carbohydrates. It is used to make tapioca, Animal feed and even laundry starch. Starch and starch products are used in many food and nonfood industries and as chemical raw materials for many other purposes, as in plastics and the tanning of leather. Nonfood use of starches - such as coating, sizings and adhesives - accounts for about 75 percent of the output of the commercial starch industry. In the food industry, Scientist argue that Cassava can be used to substitute wheat almost 100%.

Empirical scientific studies have also shown that Cassava is relevant in boosting immunity and regulate digestion. The root of the plant is rich in Vitamin C while the leaves contain beta – carotene, lysine and other compounds beneficial to the skin and metabolism.

Cassava starch is used in biscuit making, to increase volume and crispness. It is also used in sweetened and unsweetened biscuits and in cream sandwiches at the rate of 5-10 percent in order to soften zyes texture and make it non-sticky. The use of dextrose in some kinds of yeast-raised bread and bakery products has certain advantages as it is readily available to the yeast and the resulting fermentation is quick and complete.

Starch is being used in the Textile industry to strengthen linen. The recent scientific research has also proved beyond reasonable doubt that all medicines can be made from cassava. For example liquid glucose for syrup and or sweets. In the paper industry cassava can be used for biofuels.

In addition to the above, Cassava can be used to substitute industrial leaker. Currently about 90% of Industrial leaker in Uganda is heavily imported. Approximately only 10% of leaker is produced locally. In the breweries industry; there are beer products that are exclusively from cassava as a raw material for example Senator or Engule!

Modified starches are also used in the manufacture of many types of (hard candy), fondants and Turkish delight. In confectioneries, starch is used principally in the manufacture of gums, pastes and other types of sweets as an ingredient, in the making of moulds or for dusting sweets to prevent them from sticking together. Dextrose prevents crystallization in boiled sweets and reduces hydroscopicity in the finished product.

Last but not least Cassava is widely used in most tropical areas for feeding pigs, cattle, sheep and poultry. Dried peels of cassava roots are fed to sheep and goats, and raw or boiled roots are mixed into a mash with protein concentrates such as maize, sorghum, groundnut or oil-palm kernel meals and mineral salts for livestock feeding.

In many tropical regions, the leaves and stems of the cassava plant are considered a waste product. However, analytical tests have proved that the leaves have a protein content equivalent to that of alfalfa that is about 17%-20%.

In conclusion, therefore, commercialization and industrialization of cassava will impact on the lives of the rural poor particularly those in the north and north eastern Uganda as it will improve household income and reduce poverty prevalence for the cassava producing rural farmers.

Commercial processing provides a big opportunity in import substitution thus improving our country’s Terms Of Trade (TOTs) and Balance Of Payments (BOPs).

The writer is the NRM Youth Chairman, Katakwi District

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