SMEs digest: Cassava processor seeks Sh23 billion to resume production

Friday July 23 2021
Cassava pic

Harvested cassava ready for sale. PHOTO | FILE

By Louis Kalumbia

Lindi. A cassava processing facility is seeking a $10 million (about Sh23 billion) loan from commercial banks to enable it to resume production after a year-long closure.

Resumption of processing services at the Cassava Starch of Tanzania Corporation (CSTC) will be good news to small scale farmers who sell their produce to the company.

The company also owns a total of 1,900 hectares of land upon which it grows cassava for processing.

Briefing the deputy minister for Agriculture, Mr Hussein Bashe, the CSTC corporate affairs manager, Mr Knowles Lumombo, said the Sh23 billion will enable the company to change the technology it uses as it reverts to starch production after a new-year stoppage that was occasioned by market disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are requesting support in our efforts to access $10 million loan from financial institutions,” he said.

Out of the money, $5 million would be used for importation of technology from the Netherlands.

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“The technology being sought is that which uses natural gas as a source of energy instead of diesel. That way, will reduce costs of production and additionally, produce glucose and ethanol,” he said.

He asked Mr Bashe to reach out the Tanzania Agriculture Development Bank (TADB) and accelerate provision of funds for revitalisation of its operations.

In his remarks, Mr Bashe pledged to initiate talks with commercial banks to facilitate accessibility of funds that would enable the firm, which is located some 40 kilometres from Lindi along the Masasi-Mtwara Highway - to resume production.

“Work on all pending issues as we initiate talks with financial institutions in the country,” he said.

The CSTC is located in Mtama Constituency and has a 6,000 tonnes production capacity of high quality cassava flour.

Earlier, Mr Bashe assured members of Mtama Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Union (Amcos) that farmers will not be charged any single cent from cashews’ distributed agricultural inputs.

“The inputs have been distributed in terms of subsidy, therefore farmers will incur no costs this season,” he said.

However, he advised those with the ability to purchase extra amount in order to meet their demands that they should not hesitate to do so.

Mr Bashe assured farmers that more inputs, especially those in liquid form, will be distributed in the next few weeks after their arrival in the country.