Improving Quality of Cassava with Postharvest Drying Technologies

Busia County, Samia sub-County, Kenya
Salome Lwande, Founder & Chairperson of Namasango Aggregation Centre (left)

Salome Lwande is the founder and leader of the farmer group, Namasango Aggregation Centre in Busia County, Kenya. Namasango operates a cassava processing and marketing business with a business model built on providing services to increase the quality of cassava as a means to increase income. Started in 2018, the group has 15 members, including some members that identify as people living with disabilities. The centre provides cassava chipping and drying services to around 100 farmers in their community.

Cassava is a root vegetable grown widely throughout Kenya. Cassava roots can be boiled or roasted for consumption or can be milled into a flour and used in common dishes such as Ugali. The Namasango Aggregation Centre has a robust local market for fresh cassava chunks and dried cassava chips, including transport for sale at markets in Nairobi. They procure the fresh cassava roots from the farmers the serve in their community and process using a motorized chipper and dried using open drying racks.

Two women demonstrate the spreading of cassava on the ground for open-drying process.

However, open-drying is not an efficient way to dry cassava and is more difficult to meet stringent standards for sale. The cassava does not dry quick enough to meet customer orders and is susceptible to contamination from soil, wind and birds, among others. Extreme weather conditions and rain can leave the cassava vulnerable to toxic molds that can grow when using the slow process of open-air drying.

Salome believes that improved drying equipment could greatly increase their operations and significantly increase the groups incomes. That is why she was eager for Namasango Aggregation Centre to participate in Bountifield International’s Mavuno Bora project, working with entrepreneurs to expand their fee-for-service businesses.  With loan assistance from Bountifield partner, Self Help Africa, Namasango is able to purchase a hybrid solar-biomass dryer developed by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).

Cassava chips that have been rejected from the market due to poor quality.

When drying cassava in open-air, it takes Namasango 3-4 weeks to fulfill an order of 10 metric tons. The dryer however, is expected to reduce the fulfillment time to just one week. The hybrid dryer also improves the quality of the crop by reducing its exposure to the elements, mitigating the risk of spread of toxic molds.

Along with the dryer, Bountifield’s Mavuno Bora project will provide entrepreneurs, including Salome and Namasango with business and marketing training to help them expand their business opportunities and market-value. Salome believes that the centre will be able to increase their income with by decreasing the drying time, expanding their capacity to fill more orders for more customers.

The hybrid solar-bio mass dryer, designed by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology

“Our products are going to have a wider market due to better quality we attain by using a better drying technology than the one we are using currently-open sub drying on the ground,” says Salome. “We are grateful Bountifield International is walking with us in this journey.”

Bountifield is proud to partner with Salome and Namasango, supporting the increased capacity for expanding their cassava production and marketing activities in Kenya.

The Mavuno Bora project in Kenya is funded by the van Lengerich family.