Strengthening linkages between small actors and buyers in
the Roots and Tubers sector in Africa


In Malawi, the project is focusing on the cassava value chain. Cassava is the second most important staple crop after maize, and it is the main staple crop in the lake shore districts. Cassava is becoming commercially important, and its production has nearly tripled in ten years.

For the fresh market, traders usually buy the whole field from farmers and transport the roots to the nearest retail market. For processed products, the largest market is formed by small-scale bakeries and mandazi and kanyenya producers. In addition, a large potential market for High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) is in biscuits, packaging and breweries.

A project inception workshop was carried out in Lilongwe, bringing together a number of important stakeholders involved in the cassava value chain to launch the project and to make a detailed country-specific work plan for the implementation of the project activities.

The project is supporting policymakers and institutions important to the sector:

  • Analysing key policies and institutional arrangements that have an impact on the cassava value chain.
  • Working to increase the capacity of the Roots and Tubers Crops Innovation Platform (RTCIP).
  • Supporting a cassava sector development strategy.

The project is focusing on developing inclusive business models throughout the cassava value chain:

  • Supporting linkages between farmer organizations and SMEs and between SMEs and buyers of High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF).
  • Following the appraisal of business models, training entrepreneurs in the basics of the cassava value chain and sensitizing people on the possible uses of HQCF.
  • Conducting a feasibility study for cassava wet-cake supply to an existing large factory that produces HQCF.
  • Increasing the capacity of farmer organizations and SMEs in business processing and marketing operations.

With the goal of increasing sustainable market-led production intensification, the project is focusing its efforts on a number of key areas:

  • Supporting the development of strategies to increase farmers’ access to clean planting material and high-yielding varieties.
  • Training cassava farmers using the Farmer Field School (FFS) approach on the adoption of environmentally sound agronomic practices, input use efficiency, disease control (CMV, CBSD), use of high-yielding varieties with characteristics that respond to buyers’ demands, production planning and rapid multiplication techniques of clean planting material.

The project is working to strengthen access to financial services and climate change risk management tools. In general, access to financial services in rural areas is increasing thanks to a growing microfinance sector and Savings and Credit Cooperative (SACCOs), but most banks have no experience with the cassava sector. In addition, farmers lack access to tools to manage risk associated with climate change. 

  • Training financial service providers to increase their knowledge on the potential and needs of the cassava sector, with the goal to increase the financial services suitable for cassava value chains.
  • Linking SMEs and farmer organizations to financial service providers to obtain grants or loans for investment in cassava production and processing.
  • Working with the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) to include cassava in their analysis of climate impacts on inter-annual production variability and price fluctuations.
  • Improving farmer access to climate information and location specific climate change risk management strategies.