A Chinese agronomist inspires small farmers in Mozambique to better leverage their rich cassava resources
CASSAVA - an edible starchy tuberous root found throughout Sub-saharan Africa - is more than a staple food for Pedro Tomo.
As the owner of a small agro-food factory in Maputo Province in north Mozambique, Tomo has made cassava transformation the core of his current business model. His initiative began this August, when he embarked on a bold adventure: to transform local sweet potatoes and cassava into vermicelli.
The idea came from his wife, Otilia Tamele Tomo, a technician at Mozambique’s Institute of Agricultural Research (IIAM), who works side by side with the Chinese agricultural experts based there. In July, she attended a training workshop on the production of vermicelli given by Chinese agronomist Zhang Honglin. At the end of the training, the 51-year-old expert gave her a bag of sweet potato vermicelli, which she brought home and cooked for her husband.
Convinced by the good taste, Tomo then contacted Zhang to learn more about the processing of cassava and sweet potatoes. “Our meeting gave me a lot of inspiring ideas,” he said.
In fact, unlike Asia where cassava production is encouraged for industrial purposes and as an energy source, the plant remains mostly a staple food in Mozambique. The country consumes almost all of its own production. Industrial processing of cassava has yet to gain momentum, with only two South Africaninvested factories operating in the whole country, one producing cassava starch and the other cassava-based beer.
“There is great potential for industrial processing
Zhang Honglin gives a lecture