BY JOSEPH MUDINGU
Commissioned by his Excellence the president of Rwanda in 2012, Kinazi Cassava Plant is adding value to cassava and giving good returns to cassava farmers.
At close to 31km off the main road in Ruhango district, Kinazi sector, an area widely known for its cassava production harbors the Kinazi Cassava Plant.
The $10 million highly automated cassava milling factory has the capacity to process 120 metric tons of raw cassava on a 20-hour daily operation.
According to the General Manager of the plant Emile Nsanzabaganwa, because of the new modern machines, the plant plays an enormous role in changing the lives of farmers socially and economically, and is contributing to the socio-economic growth of the country.
“We have modern machines that have a capacity of producing high quality cassava flour which is being appreciated on both local and international markets” Nsanzabaganwa says.
At the plant, the carefully processed flour is produced in respect to the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for food standards referred to as “WHO- CODEX ALIMENTARIUS” for edible cassava.
Cassava has been grown for a long time and those involved have been growing it for local food consumption only.
According to the General Manager of the plant, the biggest role that the company plays is to find ready market for the farmers.
“Today farmers are earning from cassava as a cash crop. Farmers no longer consume all the cassava that they grow. We find them ready market for all their produce and this has enhanced their economic status” he adds.
Another benefit he says that cassava farmers are getting from the plant is support to access finance.
Before President Paul Kagame inaugurated the plant in 2012, farmers in the county were lacking access to finance. However, they now use their cassava fields as collateral to secure loans from banks and other micro finance institutions. Cassava is now considered as a cash crop instead of a food crop like it used to be in the past.
“We help and recommend them to access finance from various financial institutions. Today these farmers are enjoying and accessing funds that help them increase and expand their farms” Nsanzabaganwa says.
Lack of raw materials is one of the challenges that the plant faces in its operations. It is possible that if raw materials are available, the plant can operate at its full capacity.
“In the past, there were shortages in supply of cassava as a raw material and this was affecting our capacity to produce enough flour. We are working with RAB and other stakeholders to increase the yields of cassava from 12 tons to 30 tons on one hectare of land through Farmer Field School Program (FFS), also known as cassava villages,” he explains.
Today over 2,319 villages have been identified in which cassava is being cultivated countrywide. This will enable the factory to get increased raw materials from the farmers. Farmers, too, will get enough food for home consumption.
“We are confident that after this harvest, we shall have enough cassava for us to operate to full capacity” Nsanzabaganwa says.
“As we celebrate the 22nd Liberation Anniversary, we as Kinanzi Cassava Plant and our partners are happy to say that many Rwandans have been liberated through our achievements. After liberation and due to good governance, the inception of Kinanzi Cassava Plant has made it possible to change people’s lives and uplift them from poverty.
“It is against this background that Kinanzi Cassava Plant takes this opportunity to thank his Excellency the President of Rwanda and the government for initiating the plant.