Audio postcard: Tanzanian cassava co-operative triples harvest by listening to the radio

Salmu Nakudabi, chairperson of  Jitegemee B, a cassava processing co-operative in Tanzania, at work processing cassava. This group has more than tripled its yield after tuning in to a program on Pride FM, a partner of Farm Radio International. 

Hi. I’m Kevin Perkins the Executive Director of Farm Radio International.

I took this photograph in Mbawala, a small village in the Mtwara district of southern Tanzania. [Mbwala is near the coast, by the border with Mozambique.] The man in this photograph is Salmu Nakudabi. He is a member of a cassava processing co-operative called Jitegemee B, a Swahili expression that means “Be independent.” [Cassava is a starchy root vegetable that is called tapioca when dried and powdered.]

There are ten other members of this co-operative, seven women and two other men. Together they grow, grind, press, sundry and sell cassava grits — the raw form of cassava flour. The group was formed about five years ago and, until this year, it was able to sell about two tonnes of cassava grits annually.

PRIDE FMThis year has been different thanks to a radio program being broadcast by Pride FM, with support from Farm Radio International. The program called Muhogo Ni Mkombozi, which means “Cassava is the saviour” in English, aims to help cassava growers get more value from their harvests.

This popular show is produced and presented each week by Mary Mpandula and Jerry Michael, a production team at Pride FM that Farm Radio International trained in October 2013. The cassava programs helps farmers and co-operatives like Jitegemee B learn how to improve their processing of cassava, find more buyers and earn more income. Thanks to this program, this co-op was able to produce more grits and find more buyers, resulting in sales of  about seven tonnes this year. That’s three and a half times more than they sold last year!

The co-op has decided to invest the proceeds in an expansion of their cassava fields, and they have started encouraging their neighbours to tune into Pride FM’s next series on cassava so they can learn how to boost their own production of this important drought-tolerant food crop.

Salmu Nakudabi and the other members of Jitegemee B are delighted with the results and grateful to Pride FM and Farm Radio International for supporting them in their efforts to expand their cassava business.

This has been Kevin Perkins reporting to you from Tanzania. Thanks for listening.

To learn more about this project, funded by the Government of Canada and generous Canadian donors, visit the project page.

About the author
Kevin Perkins is the Executive Director of Farm Radio International. In 2013, he  relocated to Tanzania with his family to spend a year in the field, closer to FRI’s work serving small-scale farmers through the power of radio.

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