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Dutch Officials Paid Visit Cassava Processing Unit Burundi

The URUMURI cassava processing unit of Minago in Burundi, was honored on 13th March 2019, with a visit of Dutch officials from the Ministry in The Hague and his Excellency Caecilia Wijgers, the ambassador of The Netherlands in Burundi.

Dutch Officials Paid Visit Cassava Processing Unit Burundi

Photo: Dutch officials buy cassave products from the processing unit

The cassava processing unit is located in a vast plain with palm oil plantations, about 500 meters from Bujumbura-Rumonge road and 300 meters from Tanganyika Lake. Created in 2012, URUMURI has strengthened over the years. It currently has 80 active members, including 41 men and 39 women; and more than 600 small producers are connected to the unit. From the beginning, URUMURI has given itself the mission to transform and market the good quality cassava flour.

Challenges Addressed

As soon as the processing unit started, it faced incredible challenges. Such as cassava processing equipment, potable water, skills to process cassava into various cassava derived products, and the working capital in order to get raw materials. This undermined the quality of the flour produced which was uncontrolled and not legally known. It is in this grid of problems that the technical and financial support of the program Microfinance, Agri-finance and Value Chains in Burundi (MAVC) of ICCO Cooperation intervened, funded by the Dutch Embassy in Burundi.

MAVC facilitates the connection of smallholder farmers to financial and non-financial services and their connection to the market through the M4P (‘ Market for the Poor’ ) approach. Various training topics, particularly in processing and diversification of cassava products, have been provided to members of the URUMURI cooperative. MAVC intervened directly in the granting of some processing equipment.

The program also supported the cooperative in the supply of potable water, in the acquisition of legal documents from the Investment Promotion Agency (API), the National Center for Food Technology (CNTA), and the Burundian Office of Standardization (BBN).

To solve the problem of working capital, after an analysis study on the profitability of the cassava value chain and the URUMURI cooperative, ICCO facilitated the link between the cooperative and the microfinance institution (MFI) ISHAKA, which granted URUMURI a credit of 4 million Burundian francs  (EUR 1.950) BIF to solve this problem. ISHAKA is one of 12 partner MFIs that collaborate with ICCO in the development of rural financial products tailored to the needs of smallholder farmers.

Successful Performance

The quality and quantity of products processed by URUMURI were increased from one to six products and the production volume of the flour increased by more than four times.

The products currently available are NZORAMBA and RYIMARE quality flours, dried cassava leaves that can be stored for more than six months, chikwange, cassava sticks, donuts, and cassava bread. These products are sold on the local market of Rumonge and Bujumbura. URUMURI now has signed contracts with owners of restaurants in Bujumbura. Among them are Cameroonians and Congolese living in the Burundian capital.

‘We Have Seen them’

In his closing address, his Excellency Caecilia Wijgers hailed the results achieved.
“We have often heard about value chains, but today we have seen them, you are celebrating them. It’s very impressive that with the means you have, you can transform many products that are very acceptable and valuable to your population. Great thanks to the farmers of the cooperative, to the MFI which is part of the development of value chains, to the staff of ICCO and more particularly to the Country Manager. We are really very impressed with you”.