Senior managers from SARO Agro Industrial Ltd recently visited IITA to explore the possibility of partnering with the Institute. The team consisted of Milind Amin, senior General Manager and Calvin Salah, Agricultural Advisor-Technical. SARO is one of the global leaders in the design, manufacturing, and distribution of agriculture and processing equipment.
Recently, there has been an increasing interest in cassava production and processing by the Government of Zambia and this is leading to an increase in cassava production industries in Zambia. Consequently, there is a need for more simple and affordable processing equipment for smallholder farmers to make cassava chips and flour to enable them to supply big processors/industries. The company is interested in taking up this challenge in collaboration with IITA.
David Chikoye, Emmanuel Alamu Oladeji, and Pheneas Ntawuruhunga welcomed the team and briefed the visitors on the activities of IITA with an emphasis on the cassava crop value chain, capacity development, and youth in agriculture. After that, there was a brief discussion on the status of cassava production, processing equipment, and cassava-based industries in Zambia. The experience of IITA on cassava equipment manufacturing and usage was also explained.
The visitors had a chance to visit the Cassava processing center at the IITA hub in Lusaka to see the various cassava processing equipment. Cassava is the second staple crop in the southern Africa region and has a high potential for industrial use in bakeries, livestock feed mills, starch, ethanol, and beer production.
Zambia breweries have started manufacturing cassava beer, while other companies are investing in starch and ethanol production. The main challenge, however, is that most of the production and postharvest activities are still labor-intensive, justifying the need for mechanization.
The visitors were impressed by IITA’s work on cassava, and they described the work as “very exciting”. They further expressed an interest in partnering with IITA to explore ways of developing mechanized options for cassava processing in Zambia.