Aspuna Gambia Ltd, a cassava value-chain association recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Agriculture (DOA) and the National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI), on building a factory that would be processing cassava for export and domestic consumption.
Dr Demba B. Jallow, Deputy Director of NARI, described Aspuna’s intervention as in line with Government’s blueprint as well as the global cassava development strategy and implementation plan.
According to him, the objective is to counter the negative trends in cassava production and cash crop agriculture by using demand-driven approach to promote and develop cassava-based industries with the assistance of groups and individuals interested in developing the cassava industry.
Dr Jallow explained that Aspuna would build their factory here to process cassava and the flour will remain in the country, while the starch would be exported.
“Cassava is what we should look for because it is an easy crop to handle,” he stated.
NARI Deputy Director described cassava as a tolerant crop which performs well even in harsh climatic conditions or in poor soils, saying “if one is looking for an alternative in the face of climate change, cassava is the best crop for us,” he added.
Sariyang MIC Jobarteh, Deputy Director General at the Department of Agriculture, underscored the importance of public-private partnership, noting that the latter is crucial in the economic development of any country.
He said the Government has implemented policies to increase food production and security in the country and that Aspuna’s intervention is very important.
“We can only be independent if we have our food basket secured internally,” Jobarteh said.
Amadou Jah, Aspuna Gambia Ltd’s Country Director, said they intend to process all Gambian products as they want to see the country become food self-sufficient, so as to promote ‘grow what we eat and eat what we grow’ policy.
According to him, their intention is to make cassava a cash crop to enable farmers have food on their tables and some for export.
Jah acknowledged that farmers are the backbone of any country and that promoting farmers is promoting the nation.
He said they have identified customers who would buy up to 800 tonnes of cassava.
Absa Jaw, NARI Director of Research, in her closing remarks, thanked Aspuna for their partnership, saying her institution is always ready to partner with the private sector.
by Samba Jawo