A cassava farming group in Vihiga County is making impressive returns from cassava cakes, enticing a generation deeply immersed in junk food to a nutritious indigenous starch, all the while earning Sh1,350 from 2kg of cassava flour, which is more than three times what they could have earned by selling raw cassavas.
It takes at least 15 dry cassavas which retail at Sh20 a piece to make 2kg flour.
The Wekonye Group, based in Kilingili Location was formed in May 2013 and comprises eight youths. According to the group’s chairperson Albert Savala, they used to grow cassava individually but were not getting any revenues because most people in the area despise the crop as a poor-man’s food.
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“I got the idea of value addition from an agricultural workshop organized by Masinde Muliru University in Kakamega early 2013 and shared it with my fellow young farmers in the village. After deliberations, we came up with the cassava cake idea,’’ explained Savala.
Armed with an idea and some cassavas, but with no baking skills and equipment, the group enrolled two members for baking classes at a local bakery and applied for a Sh50,000 loan from the Youth Enterprise and Development Fund.
The group managed to secure the loan through the help of local leaders, who were delighted with their idea and effort. All members of the group have since gained bakery skills, and they make up to 40 cakes per day.
According to Savala, they combine 1.5 kilograms of cassava flour, 0.5 kilograms of baking flour, four eggs, and 1/8 kilogram of sugar solution to produce three cakes. “We normally cut the cake into sixteen equal pieces, primarily targeting school-going kids who constitute most of their clientele. Each cake piece is sold for Sh30, while a whole cake is priced at Sh400. On successful days, the group earns up to Sh16,000, covering daily wages, raw materials, and group savings,” said Savala.
We have managed to buy five motorbikes, two for cake distribution and three for hire. We intend to purchase a modern bakery equipment by the end of this year.”
Because their farms cannot produce enough cassava throughout the year, the group has resorted to purchasing cassavas from nearby Kakamega, Mbale, Chavakali, Luanda and Kibos towns, in the process creating a ready market for cassava farmers in the region.
This novel value addition project has not only made locals and youth in particular to embrace cassava eating but has also created a vibrant local economic cycle that is changing social economic tidings of the many people spread across the value chain.