Rwanda: CIP and BioInnovate Africa Launch New Project to Expand OFSP Value Chain in the Region

By Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU

The BioInnovate Africa Project through the International Potato Center (CIP) has launched a new project that will expand the value chain of Orange Fleshed Sweet potato across the region.

The $ 750 thousands project will cover four East African Countries namely Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia

TOPAFRICANEWS has learnt that the Project is funded by BioInnovate Africa and will be managed by CIP.

BioInnovate Africa is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and is based at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Nairobi, Kenya. The Programme supports scientists and innovators in the region to link biological based research ideas and technologies to business and the market.

The Project which was launched in Kigali on Friday, July 05, 2019 is titled “Orange-fleshed Sweetpotato (OFSP) Puree for Bakery Applications in East Africa for Nutrition, Post-Harvest Loss Management, and Youth & Women Economic Empowerment.”

Speaking to the Media, the CIP Regional Food Scientist Tawanda Muzhingi explained that “The Project was designed to be implemented in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia.”

He added that “At International Potato Centre we have been promoting Orange Fleshed Sweet potatoe for providing Vitamin A to communities in East Africa, because Vitamin A defficiency is a big problem in the region”

“So one of the strategies to make sure that there is sustainable adoption of Orange Fleshed Sweet Potatoes is to do some value addition so that when farmers grow the nutritious crop they can continue to growing year after year but there has to be some money attached to it.” He added

Tawanda explained that partners want to work with Private sector and food companies so that they can start to see orange-fleshed sweetpotato as an ingredient in their manufacturing processes, providing new products that use orange-fleshed sweetpotato that are safe to eat, that are nutritious to eat, and that also provide income opportunities and employment opportunities for the youth.

“So in Rwanda we are working with Social Enterprises called the Women’s bakery, so they are going to work with farmers who are going to grow the orange-fleshed sweetpotato and then they will make puree and they will use that mash to make bakery products like bread, biscuits, etc.”

Today Rwanda sees the growing number of local enterprises that are investing in Agro-processing Industry.

The sector which is now taking its stage is occupied by a big number of University graduates working closely with small farmers across the country.

The Number of Investors putting money in Agro-processing is also increasing.

Shira Mukiibi

Shira Mukiibi the BioInnovate Africa-Business Development Manager said that they have decided to support the OFSP project in the Region in order to expand the OFSP Value chain while at the same time creating opportunities for youth and Women.

She emphasized that “This is a very important project with regards to food nutrition…there is an issue of stunting and there are certain key nutritive element that are in OFSP…so this project is actually going to add value in that area.”

In Rwanda, the International Potato Center (CIP) has been disseminating technologies for Orange Fleshed Sweetpotato to smallholder farmers and working to link these farmers to markets for fresh roots as well as commercial processors.

Speaking at the launching of this new OFSP project, Dr. Kirimi Sindi, Country Manager / Value Chain Expert at International Potato Center | Rwanda said “Rwanda is the right place for whoever wants to invest in Orange fleshed Sweetpotato business.”

Dr. Sindi Kirimi

He congratulate BioInnovate Africa representatives saying that “You are actually choosing in the right country because the Orange Sweet potato value chain started under CIP,…

“There was a little bit work done in Uganda, Mozambique, but the real value chain started from here (Rwanda).”

Currently Business people who have advanced in adding value to Orange Sweet potato including the renowned Entreprise Urwibutso of SINA Gerard which produces among other products, biscuits, Mandazi and cakes made from the Orange Sweet Potatoes.

However youth also are tapping into the opportunity and they are optimistic that as the years go on, many people are starting to realize the OFSP potential.

Dusabe Noeline, the Owner of DUSABE Company Ltd which produces Cakes and Biscuits from OFSP said that “there was time when people was undermining the potential of sweet potatoes but this time now many are realizing how important Sweet potato is.”

“When I started my company three years ago we had no idea that we will reach at this level. Today we are able to produce cakes and biscuits using Sweet potato. Apart from the deliciousness there is also vitamin A and other nutritious elements in our products.”

Dusabe Company Ltd is based in Nyagatare District in the Eastern Province of Rwanda where it works with small farmers who sell their harvests to the company for Value addition and final production.

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