FAO and Caribbean Development Bank join forces for Trinidad and Tobago Cassava value chain development

 Photo Credit: FAO

Alliances are fundamental to sustainable market driven value chains, says FAO expert.

This morning, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) began a two-day sustainable cassava value chain workshop in Trinidad, which will be replicated in Tobago on 13 and 14 March.

The training is funded by the project titled Sustainable Approaches to Agribusiness and Value Chain Development for Roots and Tuber Crops (TCP/SLC/3604), which is being implemented in seven countries, including Trinidad and Tobago under FAO’s Technical Cooperation Programme. “The training involves participants working through the value chain gaps, market bottlenecks and upgrade strategies for 2-3 consumer demanded products from processed cassava. A key success factor will be improved links between cassava crop productivity, reduced per-unit costs and more efficient and competitively priced supply to markets, whilst ensuring profitability at all levels”, said  Vermaran Extavour, Regional Coordinator of the project.

The TCP project provides co-financing to a larger project, funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), titled Cassava Industry Development Market Assessment and Technology Validation and Dissemination (GCP/SLC/010/CDB).


FAO  unique opportunity to strengthen food security

The two projects together contribute significantly to the ongoing initiatives aimed at reducing the burgeoning Caribbean food import bill which currently stands at USD 5 billion per annum.  According to recent estimates CARICOM countries import, on an annual basis, 900,000 metric tonnes (MT) of wheat for flour and 420,000 MT of corn (mainly for poultry feed). The regional beer industry imports nearly 100,000 tons of malt annually. Many of these industries recognize the substitution possibilities of CARICOM grown cassava. However, to supply these potential markets requires consistency and improvements at all levels along the value chain: starting with improved varieties and production technologies, more efficient marketing and processing systems and closer business relationships between the value chain actors, from production to consumption. “We need high-level, large-scale interventions to address these challenges. That requires inclusion, innovation, and participatory strategies. These will be some of the focus areas of our discussions during the value chain workshops”, explained Dr. Vyjayanthi Lopez, FAO’s Regional Plant Production and Protection Officer and the focal point of the FAO/CDB project at last week’s work planning sessions with national partners at the Research Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries (MALF).

”We need closer ties between FAO, the development partners and all market actors if we are to tackle the main challenges that threaten regional food security – rising hunger and overweight, rural poverty and climate change”, she continued.

“The CDB-funded project focuses on the development of three key areas:  On-farm research on cassava production technologies to increase yields; market and value chain skills for Extension Officers and farmers and facilitation for improved cassava farmer-buyer linkages’, added Vermaran Extavour.

The FAO /CDB project  bridges  and continues  the technical assistance  partnerships to the Caribbean  roots and tuber sector concluded recently under the  “Agriculture Policy Programme (APP) funded under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) and executed through the  Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). The national partner institutions are the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources and the National Agricultural and Marketing Development Corporation (NAMDEVCO), in Trinidad; the Tobago House of Assembly in Tobago and the private sector farmer and  marketing associations.   Other development partners are the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical /Latin American and Caribbean Consortium to support Cassava Research and  Development (CIAT/ CLAYUCA Corporation) and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI).