The­root­sof­suc­cess

A Chi­nese agron­o­mist in­spires small farm­ers in Mozam­bique to bet­ter lever­age their rich cas­sava re­sources

ChinAfrica - - China Report -

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

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