Cassava, despite its potential to significantly contribute to the country’s economic growth, is often overshadowed by traditional agricultural giants like cocoa and gold.
The staple, consumed in many Ghanaian households, silently awaits its emergence as an economic powerhouse.
Unfortunately, we are all yet to fully wake up to understand and appreciate the economic windfall that this crop can bring.
Ghana is unintentionally missing substantial economic benefits and value addition that cassava could offer.
This versatile crop, capable of boosting revenue streams, lacks the serious consideration and prioritization given to the other key and limited commodities.
Edwin Siaw, a media practitioner in the Eastern Region, shared that beyond its economic potential, cassava offered a treasure trove of health benefits.
Recognized for its nutritional richness, cassava provides essential vitamins and minerals.
Additionally, it is known for its potential in preventing and treating certain health conditions, making it a valuable ally in the quest for improved well-being.
We also collectively agree that cassava boasts a wide array of industrial applications, from pharmaceutical uses to the production of starch and biogas.
Cassava proves to be one of the easiest to cultivate, a versatile crop with far-reaching benefits, playing a pivotal role in various industrial processes.
However, the growth of the cassava industry faces impediments that stifle its full potential.
The absence of enhanced efficiency machinery, equipment, technology, and value-addition initiatives and innovations presents a significant hurdle which prevents the industry from flourishing.
There exists a noticeable gap between acknowledging cassava’s potential and taking concrete steps to unlock its benefits.
We commend the women, young ones, and many number of individuals and private companies who are doing so much within the value addition cassava space.
Our governments have equally taken commendable steps to advance cassava production over the years, exemplified by the establishment of notable but not-so-functional cassava factories like Ayensu Starch Factory, CH Global Limited, a cassava and yam processing factory operating under the government’s 1-District-1-Factory initiative and Global Almas Processing Ltd among others.
Despite these significant developments, it is imperative to acknowledge that there remains substantial work ahead to fully realize the potential of cassava production in the country.
In a bid to advocate and champion cassava’s prominence and draw attention to its untapped potential, Agrihouse Foundation has embarked on initiatives to bring cassava to the forefront of the agricultural agenda.
Holding the franchise for the International Cassava Fair in Brazil, Agrihouse orchestrated a delegation visit to Brazil, exposing delegates to global advancements in cassava cultivation, varieties, value chain addition, machinery, and equipment, among other applications.
In our conversation with key figures in the cassava industry, Daniel Okyere, a farmer and owner of East Midland Farms in Begoro, echoed the sentiments, emphasising that cassava is a crop with immense economic potential, yet Ghana is not fully capitalizing on it.
Expressing the need for significant policy changes, he urged the government to implement measures supporting cassava farmers, including policies for acquiring machinery and facilitating access to loans for production.
A farmer, celebrated for winning the Best Extension Volunteer award in 2013 at the Farmer’s Day in New Juaben North, Abigail Ghama, later received the She Innovates Award from Agrihouse Foundation in the Eastern Region in July 2023 at Agrihouse Foundation’s Gold in the Soil Awards, highlighted the challenges faced by cassava farmers.
She emphasised the difficulty of using traditional tools like cutlasses and hoes due to the lack of modern machinery for planting.
Adding her voice, the Managing Director of Lexzee Agro processing Limited, Ivy Edith Opare Yeboah, highlighting the significance of cassava, noted that it constituted approximately 80 per cent of the food consumed in Ghana.
Despite its vital role, Ms Yeboah encountered challenges in accessing raw materials and strongly urged the government to establish robust market linkages with the cassava sector.
In her perspective, the cassava sector held immense untapped potential, yet both the government and Ghanaians were not fully capitalizing on it, emphasising that with proper support and strategic initiatives, the cassava sector could significantly contribute to the country’s food security and economic development.
It is in the light of this that Agrihouse Foundation, is resolutely dedicated to exploring further and using the knowledge to contribute to instigating change.
Driven by a vision infused with passion and an unwavering belief in the transformative capabilities of cassava, she underscores the vital necessity for collaborative endeavors.
The government, private sector, and agricultural stakeholders must unite in implementing sustainable policies and initiatives.
For Agrihouse Foundation, the extends to a future where cassava not only thrives as a pivotal economic contributor in Ghana but also uplifts the nation’s agricultural panorama to unprecedented levels of prosperity.
“We aspire to witness a future where cassava not only emerges as a crucial economic force in Ghana but also stands as a beacon of prosperity for farmers; our women, youth, etc.
“We also aspire to witness a time where we have all the needed innovations, technology, appropriate and affordable machinery, equipment, and input that would build speed and efficiency,” she said.
The desire to witness a period where the knowledge gap will be bridged and young women farmers, mothers, youth, beginners, and family farmers appreciate, understand, and learn more about how they can grow their cassava enterprises, through value addition, is the wish of all in the sector and those who know more about the crop.
The utmost desire of players in the industry has been to get to a stage where all equipment, input, logistics, etc, will not only be for a select connected group but will be accessible and affordable to all.