Ruhango District-based Kinazi Cassava plant plans to double its flour exports from 658 tonnes, its General Manager, Emile Nsanzabaganwa, has said—pegging the firm’s optimism on the recently renewed certificate of registration by the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA).
Nsanzabaganwa told The New Times that the development means that Kinazi’s cassava flour products are recognised by the US FDA, an agency which has advanced laboratories in food testing.
It also means that the processing company can trade its products in the US as well as anywhere in the world without constraints.
The certificate is valid for one year which is renewable when the food producer has maintained the standards. Kinazi’s current certificate is valid from December 31, 2018 to December 31, 2019. Kinazi got its first certificate in 2015, he said.
“The US is a large nation made up with 50 states and inhabited by more than 300 million people. Many people thought that cassava flour is only used for making Ugari and they were wondering whether Americans can eat Ugali,” he said, explaining that it has demand from Southern America, Western Africa, and the Great Lakes region which have large communities that consume cassava.
“We are targeting the US, Europe and African countries,” he added.
He said that cassava is being grown in over 100 countries in the world, emphasising that securing access to the international market demonstrates how competitive the firm is.
The factory has capacity to produce 30 tonnes of flour per day, equivalent to 7,200 tonnes per year.
He said that the factory is, among other factors, challenged by the lack of enough supply of raw materials.
Between 2013 and 2015, the country was hit by Cassava Brown Streak Disease that affected produce.
This situation also forced the factory to work at just about 20 per cent of its capacity.
Nsanzabaganwa said that the problem was addressed through growing of cassava varieties that are resistant to the disease.
“We sometimes had to move 1,700 kilometres to get cassava which made flour production expensive. Now, there is enough cassava produce to the extent that we can reach the processing capacity of our factory,” he said.
Kinazi Cassava flour. File.
Talking about the local market, Nzabaganwa said that the firm is going to embark on a campaign to encourage the use of cassava in making pizzas, bread, biscuits and chapattis as the flour can be blended with wheat flour following recommended recipes to make healthy products.
He said that such practice is carried out in Nigeria and in many other parts of the world.
“We want schools, public entities to use flour that is safe for consumption,” he said. Because when you want to buy flour produced using rudimentary technologies like when cassava lacked enough light to dry, it can develop harmful fungi.
He said that cassava can be transformed into 100 products, and that the firm is exploring plans to produce other cassava products that can be used in pharmaceutical and textile industries, colour production and construction sector, ethanol that can replace cooking gas, alcohol, and animal feed, among others.
Rwanda’s cassava production increased to more than 1.127 million tonnes in 2018 from 1.041 million tonnes in 2017, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources.
Cassava produce was 656,924 tonnes in 2013, according to the same figures, and agriculture sector players largely attribute the low yield to Cassava Brown Streak Disease.
Overall, according to statistics from National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB), Rwanda’s agricultural exports generated over $515.9 million (about Rwf447 billion) in the July 2017-June 2018 financial year, indicating an increase of 44.73 per cent compared to $356.5 million (about Rwf316.8 billion) generated in the same period.