A new Rwf5 billion (US$8.4 million) cassava flour processing plant in Rwanda will provide farmers with a ready market for their produce.[hidepost=9][/hidepost]
The plant, located in Rwanda’s Southern Province, will have an expected capacity of 250 tons of cassava tubers per hour, which in turn will produce 60 tons of flour per day. The finished product will be sold in the East African market, while some will also be exported internationally. Any remaining product will be used for animal feed.
The Rwanda Development Bank is responsible for setting up the project. The Bank has been mandated by the government to act as the investment arm, financing the nation’s development objectives with a focus on the priority sectors of the economy.
The cassava flour processing plant is expected to be completed by September 2011.
According to the Rwanda Agricultural Research Institute, cassava is both a staple food and cash crop, ranking third in terms of production, behind banana and sweet potato.
Renaissance Capital noted in a recent report that agriculture represents a third of Rwanda’s GDP and it employs 80% of the population in largely subsistence farming. The sector depends highly on the short and long rainy seasons that do so much to drive inflation – in December, inflation ended the year at zero, due to ideal weather in 2010.
Recent value-added developments include fully washed coffee beans that sell at twice the normal price, and a move into horticulture that may challenge other exporters, from Kenya to Colombia.
Land reform, the application of fertilisers and allowing land titles to be used as collateral might all support the country’s ambitions to become a regional exporter of agricultural products.