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Garri and Tapioca – Benin
Improvement production method for structureel growth in income and access to food
In Benin, food insecurity is largest in the regions where Louvain Coopération is active. In these regions the drought period (soudure) – and therefore also the food shortage – lasts 5 months on average. Cassava or manioc originates from South America, yet these days they are widely consumed in Africa and Southeast Asia as well. Fresh manioc (cassava root) can be processed into tapioca (cassava flour) and gari (fermented cassava granules). Both products are used as the main ingredient (starch) of meals, also in the dry season. The manufacturing process is traditional and laborious, which means that production volumes are limited, usually just enough for personal consumption. The quality is often poor, and the nutrients get lost in the process. The local and regional demand for gari and tapioca is high. Traders bring in the major part of the consumed volume from neighbouring countries like Mali and Niger. There is a great need for stable, local supply of high-grade manioc products.
The initiative is focused on a transformation from ‘production for survival’ to ‘production for the market’. 300 (mostly female) farmers, united in 20 cooperatives, get access to knowledge (on material maintenance, storage, transport, conservation, packaging, organisation) and to cutting-edge materials (graters, mechanical presses etc.) for the production and processing of manioc. This saves time and raises both quality and volume of the production. Furthermore, it stimulates the entrepreneurship of the farmers and it raises their professionalism and profitability. This increases their possibilities to obtain credit. An umbrella organisation (trade centre) is being installed, which centralises the supply and processing of manioc of 20 separate cooperatives, controls the quality of the tapioca and gari and coordinates the marketing.
In order to have access to food also in the dry season, but also to continue generating income during that period, garri and tapioca are being manufactured from fresh manioc. By significantly improving the production method and through support in marketing of the products, the income of the beneficiaries of this initiative can be increased by 25%. Moreover, the farmers' entrepreneurship is stimulated and they gain better access to credit possibilities because of their increasing professionality and profitability.