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Focus | 13 Apr 2012
Cassava, the economic crop for women

Ambitious women group like many women groups work cassava
These food stuffs are among the most consumed. While plantains, maize, yams and coco yams also contribute largely in feeding the populations, cassava in recent years have become both a source of income to women’s groups and a food item for local communities.
The cassava sector business is dominated by women who in the most part are in the informal sector. This explains why though garri, watafufu, starch and other cassava processed products are high income fetchers in the region, official statistics are very difficult to get.
To measure the strength of these products in the livelihood of farmers visit any local market and you will find either retailers or farmers selling their cassava processed products. In the Kumba market one of the most outstanding food stuff is garri. These cassava-processed products like waterfufu, starch, kumkum or myondo are not made in Kumba town. To get those really working behind the scenes visit the neighborhoods of the town and you will know the importance of the crop. In Kake, a neighbourhood in Kumba, for example, there are women’s groups like the Ambitious Women and the Unity and Progress Woman that have cassava as one of their main produce. They do not only work the cassava but have locally made equipments that help them to process the cassava.

They either sell the produce in Kumba or are solicited right in their base for garri when there is a shortage. In Kumba town groups like the Charity Women produce starch in tons but their major problem is the market. They supply local dry cleaners and have the problem of producing more cassava for the starch.
Most of the women work their cassava, especially those far away like in Mbonge and other towns in the rainy season and harvest in the dry season. This is to avoid transportation cost on the earth and poorly maintained roads in Meme and Ndian Divisions.
Another market with a lot of cassava products is the Muyuka and the Yoke markets. While most sellers in the Yoke market are producers of cassava and those in the Muyuka main market are mostly buy and sell agents who comb village markets, buy the garri and retail. In the Yoke market that holds every Wednesday dealers in garri from Douala, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and other towns load their wares into vehicles and take off. The market has gained some reputation because of the significant quantity of garri that leaves the area.

Here dealers from Equatorial Guinea and Gabon have their agents who buy from the farmers and take to Douala for exportation. Some of the farmers told TFV that it costs at least 32 500 francs to get a bag of garri including transport to Douala for exportation to Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. A basin of garri that used to sell for 3000 francs is now 10000 francs. The open markets for the produce have made it difficult sometimes for local consumers who are seeing the increase in the prices as a major problem.
Unfortunately for consumers of these products farmers still use rudimentary production and processing tools. This is responsible for the low production.
In the North West Region, a garri market was set up in Mbengwi last year. This was good news for most cassava farmers in the area given that a lot of gari is produced in the area. By setting up a market this would encourage most of the farmers to work hard and enable buyers get good quantities and reduce transportation cost.

Civil society Support to cassava farmers in the South West
Cassava has proven very important in rural communities in recent years.This explains why civil society organisations like the Rural Development Centre in Kumba and the Philanthropic Development Centre PIDEC in Bangem have sought funds to help women cassava farmers in the region develop their trade. These two organizations in their feasibilities studies had found out that if women are empowered in the cassava production-processing-marketing chain, the women would make a lot of income from their farms.

“We hope to boost cassava production in Kupe Muanenguba to at least 12 000 tons by the end of the project”, Ngolle Marcel, the Executive Coordinator of PIDEC told TFV in an interview late this year. They are supporting cassava farmers thanks to funding from MANOS UNIDAS of Madrid, Spain. The two year project is expected to increase cassava production in Tombel, Bangem and Nguti sub divisions that make up the Kupe Muanenguba division.
RUDEC in Kumba has been working with some 40 cassava women farmers for close to a decade, marketing is at the centre of the civil society organisation’s project with the farmers now. After the production and processing phases with Meme women cassava farmers thanks to sponsorship from Misseoro Germany, the emphases now is on proper marketing of the cassava products produced by these women.
According to Eyambe Mathias Yale, the marketing officer for RUDEC, they are doing everything to see that the groups produce and package their cassava products well in order to gain an external market. To the marketing officer, the cassava women would make more money if they export cassava chips, starch and flour to Europe. Bangsi Daniel Song

A basin of garri in Yoke is 8500 francs”,
Samuel Eyong Akong, farmer and dealer in garri, Yoke
What are you buying in Yoke market ?
I am buying and selling garri. There are people who have left Equitorial Guinea to buy garri here from us. We produce a lot of garri here.
Are you buying or producing ?
We produce much of it and buy some from farmers.

What is the cost of garri here in Yoke market ?
Now a basin of garri in Yoke is 8500 francs, sometimes it goes down to 5000 francs, sometimes it even goes up to 10000 francs. One bag of garri loaded like this is 30000 francs. A bag of garri costs 2500 francs to be at the port ready for transportation to Malabo.
Do you make more gain here or in Malabo ?
I don’t sell in Malabo, I only buy and sell here. What we do is that the people in Malabo send us money and we send them their garri.

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