AVCO Foods is establishing a cassava industry in rural South Africa that creates new jobs, increases local value creation and reduces dependence on imports. The key: involving local communities.

Cassava, also known as manioc, is a plant with great potential to increase food security – especially in the face of global warming: It is easy to cultivate, grows even on poor soils and produces twice as much starch per hectare as maize on average in Africa. As it is gluten- and GMO-free, it offers a healthier alternative to wheat and maize and is therefore of interest to the fast-growing segment of environmentally friendly health products.

In addition, there is no dependency on agricultural companies: farmers use the stalks from the last harvest for planting. With the “White Gold” project, AFN partner AVCO Food Processing starts to establish a cassava industry in rural Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, from cultivation to processing. The focus is on improving market access for local farmers, replacing expensive starch imports and exporting tapioca starch worldwide. It is also about revitalising a vulnerable local community:

“Project White Gold will bring life to the community while growing the local economy by an estimated 900 Million Rand per year”, says AVCO Foods co-founder Zin Mabaso. It will create numerous jobs (especially for women and young people) and cultivate up to 10,000 hectares of land. Key elements are the establishment of an agricultural company to process cassava and a training initiative for farmers, most of whom live on the edge of subsistence.

Experienced initiators, Thailand as a role model

The state-of-the-art, zero waste cassava processing plant will be powered by green electricity and will be the largest in Africa. Local production will replace up to 20,000 tonnes of starch imports per year and additionally enable global exports. “We believe that, through local production and processing of cassava, South Africa can not only reduce its dependence on tapioca starch imports, but also become a formidable player on the global market,” says co-founder Markus Fröhlich.

Important: “White Gold” is not a pilot project. The co-founders Mabaso and Fröhlich, have many years of experience in establishing sustainable value chains in the food industry. They have been working intensively on cassava processing since 2017 (in Mozambique and Côte d’Ivoire). In KwaZulu Natal, they are following Thailand’s example in establishing a competitive starch industry.

One of the key experiences of Mabaso and Fröhlich is that it is crucial to closely involve local stakeholders and communities. That is why they did not come to KwaZulku Natal with a prefabricated concept, but first sought dialogue with the local people.

>>> The AVCO-Foods-Team welcomes individuals and businesses who are passionate about impactful projects and social transformation through localisation: https://avcofoods.com/siyaphilisana-fundraiser/

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