Sylvester Ouma is a farmer with PlantVillage from Bwiri location, Samia Sub County, Namuduru Sub Location, Ganga area. He is the local chief and the owner of one of the three aggregation centers in Busia County. The rest are in Teso North and Teso South.
This aggregation center was established in 2018 as a result of high demand from cassava farmers requesting cassava processing.
Sylvester acquired his processing machine from Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which he has been using to process cassava.
Aggregation center is a profitable venture to Sylvester and the entire community. The processed cassava is consumed by the community hence a benefit to the community. The chief also gets profits from selling his products to the market.
‘’The only cash crop that I can advise farmers to plant in this region is cassava. In one acre you’ll get almost 5,000 kg of clean cassava and about 100 bags of clean cuttings. Cassava in general has a lot of benefits. Right now we focus on clean cassava and the ones not so clean can be used to make other products to sell. Also one can obtain cuttings. I always encourage farmers with clean cuttings by helping them to find market to sell their cuttings.’’
How has PlantVillage helped with adoption rate of clean cuttings?
Involvement of PlantVillage has helped farmers adopt clean cutting. The adoption rate of clean cuttings around Ganga had gone up to 45% from 2010 when I started cassava production. That time almost every farmer had one or half an acre of clean cuttings but the production went low from decline of market and diseases. Right now we have about 25-35% of clean cassava seeds around Ganga.
What challenges have you encountered in your aggregation center?
The cassava processing machine has the capacity for production but there is insufficient cassava.
There is also lack of a complete set of cassava chain aggregation centers due to lack of advanced knowledge and machines to make products like chicken feeds.
Sometimes, your cassava supplier might lacks certified seeds hence infected cassava.
Which method do you use to ensure you only obtain clean cassava from your suppliers?
I use a smartphone given by PlantVillage to identify the infected cassava. I normally visits the suppliers’ field and scan the cassava leaves using PlantVillage Nuru application for cassava brown streak and cassava mosaic disease. From looking at the leaves I can tell whether the tubers are affected.
What’s your advice to farmers willing to set up their own aggregation?
My advice is you should have enough cassava suppliers
You should also have people managing the aggregation. From production which involves peeling, washing, chipping, drying and packing to marketing of the produce. One should have readily available market.
Are you willing to teach other farmers on how to set up their own aggregation center?
I am much interested in teaching other farmers on how to set up their own aggregation center. I am available in the chief’s office in Ganga and also have members with knowledge who are willing to teach others.
Written By;Mercyline Tata