Ruvuma. The use of cassava starch in manufacturing pharmaceuticals promises to benefit farmers significantly, but only if production is enhanced, The Expert Market Report (EMR) 2021 suggests.
The demand of cassava in pharmaceuticals manufacturing is growing rapidly, thus serving as a wake up call for the government and farmers to realign their priorities considering the increasing demand.
Farmers are therefore likely to reap big after a reasonable investment, which the government should consider supporting through various means, including the involvement of lenders in the agriculture sector.
The EMR 2021 shows that cassava starch had a $40.53 billion market value in 2018.
However, the market is expected to grow to $66.84 billion in 2026, which is equivalent to an average growth of 6.50 percent.
The EMR 2021 unveils that world cassava processing market reached 261 million tonnes in 2020, an average growth of three percent from 2017 to 2021.
“The market is expected to grow to 335 million tonnes by 2026,” reads part of the report.
The Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI) researcher from the Naliendele Centre in Mtwara Region, Mr Festo Masisila, said following increased potential brought by cassava starch, Tanzanians are challenged to increase the crop’s production.
The researcher said in pharmaceutical industries, starch is used as a carrier material for chemically active ingredient and bonding agent for producing tablets.
“There is also a high demand for glucose syrups due to its availability and high quality starch found in cassava,” he said during a recent interview with The Citizen.
The expert says cassava starch can be widely used in making tablets, capsules and powder formulations, as it absorbs moisture and swell after swallowing resulting in disintegration of the tablet.
Furthermore, he said in the manufacturing of soaps and detergents, starch is used in getting better recovery and to improve the shelf life of detergents.
“Cassava starch is commonly used as fillers in soaps production as it is usually mixed with particles of soap before milling,” said Mr Masisila.
He said cassava starch is also used in the production of bioethanol following the effectiveness of ethanol in killing microorganisms like bacteria, fungi and viruses.
According to him, produced ethanol is a common ingredient in manufacturing different types of hand sanitisers that are recommended in the hygiene maintenance in the absence of soap and water.
“Practicing hand hygiene is also an important part in intensifying war against Covid-19. Using hand sanitisers or alcohol-based hand rubs (ABHR) can help to inactivate the strain of coronavirus that causes Covid-19,” he said.
During the interview, Mr Masisila said ethanol mixes easily with water and many organic compounds and makes an effective solvent for use in paints, lacquers and varnish, as well as personal care and household cleaning products.
“As an additive to cleaning products, ethanol is also used as a preservative because it is effective in knocking out organisms that could pose health threat to consumers,” he said.
Tabling the 2022/23 Budget in Dodoma, Agriculture minister Hussein Bashe told the Parliament that the government was planning to mobilise farmers to indulge in cassava commercial farming.
“Following the mobilisation, we are looking forward to increasing cassava production from seven million tonnes in 2021/22 to 10 million tonnes in 2022/23 Financial Year,” he said.
The minister, who doubles as Nzega Urban Constituency legislator, said the mobilisation will target major cassava growing regions.
He named the regions as Tanga, Coast, Kigoma, Lindi and Mtwara, noting that TARI has planned to produce and distribute to farmers a total of 8.25 million cassava cuttings in order to realise the target.
Mr Masisila said last month, TARI introduced 11 cassava varieties in Ruvuma Region whose names and their respective production quantity per hectare in tonnes in brackets are: Mkumba (50.9); TARICASSIV (39.4) and Kiroba (26-30).
Others are TARICASS III (24.6); TARICASSV (23.7); Mkuranga 1 (21.6); Chereko (20.6); Kipisa (18.8); TARICASS II (17.2); TARICASS1 (16.6) and Kizimbani (15.3).
“The harvests from the new varieties are three to four times per hectare as compared to yields produced by traditional varieties,” he said.
Cassava farming in Tanzania
Mr Masisila said cassava thrives in all Tanzania’s regions following its ability to sustain different types of ecology, hinting that production has increased from 5.9 million tonnes in 2008/09 to 8.2 million tonnes in 2018/19.
In the last 12 years from 2005/06 to 2017/18, efficiency in cassava production has grown at an average of six tonnes per hectare.
“This is the second food crop after maize that is accessed in the country by 17 percent. Production of quality cassava stem cuttings through formal systems has reached 40 million by 2020,” he said.
“Production of seedlings cutting from producing farms has increased from 102.2 hectares in 2015 to 398.85 hectares in 2020,” he added.
According to Mr Masisila, the government is determined to increase cassava production from 8.2 million tonnes in 2020 to 24 million in 2030.“Also, it intends at improving efficiency from eight tonnes per hectare to 16 tonnes by 2030. During this period research and development will be another area of priority,” he said.
According to him, the government was expected to increase processing and value addition through the use of better agricultural inputs and proper coordination of the value addition chain.
Speaking to The Citizen, a cassava farmer in the region, Ms Beatrice Mollel said for many years farmers have been cultivating the crop without knowing its economic benefits.
She said most farmers have been cultivating the crop for food and commercial purposes, noting that tubers have been sold for consumption and drying them to get flour.
“Most of us sell fresh cassava during the Holy Month of Ramadan in order to generate income. We also sell tubers for breakfast,” she said.
Mr Mussa Mohamed, also a farmer in the region said farmers need to be equipped with the training from researchers and extension officers to increase investment in cassava cultivation to be used as raw materials for production of many other products.
Ruvuma regional agriculture officer Onesmo Ngao said the region aims at providing farmers with opportunities to learn and get technical skills to enable them increase production and gain economic stability.
According to him, farmers will also benefit by being connected to different buyers and traders of different agricultural inputs in the region’s efforts to practically live the 2022 Farmers’ Day slogan: 10/30 Agriculture is Business.