$26M Cassava flour factory underway in Kwebanna
─ to produce cassareep, starch, and other by-products
The construction of a Cassava Flour Processing Factory is underway in Kwebanna Village, Moruca, Region One.
Works on the facility began in December 2018, at the cost of $10M.
The funds also catered for the clearing and preparation of 30 acres of land, and the purchasing of cassava sticks for planting.
An additional $16M was allocated this year for equipping the facility, making a total of $26M invested by the government.
The project has already created employment for several villagers who supplied most of the materials being used with jobs created for the actual construction.
Toshao of Kwebanna and Vice Chairman of the National Toshaos Council (NTC), Paul Pierre, told the Department of Public Information (DPI) that the project was initiated by the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs after consultations with the residents.
He said that the residents were eager to embark on such a significant venture that will generate income for the community: “Cassava is one of our main produce… We said that flour production would be a good thing for us, boost agriculture and add value to the product. We are at a point of completion. This project will not only benefit this community but the entire Moruca sub-region, Mabaruma, and even Port Kaituma, Matthews Ridge and the other areas.”
With assistance from the Ministry of Social Protection’s Co-operative Society Department, the Kwebanna Farmers’ Co-operative was established. Chairman of the Co-op, Fabian France explained that a number of studies were carried out on the sweet cassava before deciding on the project.
France said, “We never had this opportunity before, this is the very first time. In the beginning, the [Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe] came in and kept a meeting.
“She mentioned the tomato project in Region Eight and when she mentioned this cassava… I carry out a study on the sweet cassava, and it came turned out well. [Cassava flour] stays for months even without sealing.”
In addition to the over 30 farmers that will directly benefit from the project, residents will also cash in from surrounding areas including Santa Cruz, Barama and Manawarin.
Training in the processing of the cassava flour will be conducted by the Ministry of Social Protection’s Board of Industrial Training Department. The Ministry of Business will be assisting in training for the packaging.
Not only will the factory produce cassava flour for use in the region and further afield, but it will be producing cassareep, starch, and other cassava by-products.
Once completed, the community will be seeking markets through the school’s hot meal programmes and supply the three dormitories in the sub-Districts, Mabaruma, Moruca, and Matarkai.
Over the weekend, Minister Garrido-Lowe visited the construction site where works are ongoing. This project is expected to be completed within a month.
Kwebanna has a population of 900, and its main economic activities are lumber, subsistence farming, hunting, and fishing.