Young agripreneurs create markets for farmers in the Congo

To encourage value addition of cassava and provide employment opportunities for local farmers, women and youths in the Democratic Republic of Congo, young entrepreneurs have established eight processing centres across the country.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, young agripreneurs have established cassava processing centres, creating employment opportunities for 500 farmers © H. Holmes/RTB-CGIAR

Cassava processing by young graduates has created market opportunities for 500 local farmers in the Bukavu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Since 2015, the 21-member International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Kalambo Youth Agripreneurs (IKYA) group has been buying cassava from these farmers and processing it locally into flour. Their market comprises supermarkets, local households and nutrition centres where they can sell 1 kg of flour for €0.80 (1,540 CDF), and weekly sales demand has risen from 900 kg to 2 t in 2018.  

According to IKYA’s leader, Noel Mulinganya, before the project, Bukavu farmers sold their raw cassava across the border in Rwanda where it was processed into flour, then sold back to them. To enable local processing, and create employment opportunities for local youths and women, IITA provided IKYA with start-up capital, cassava value addition training, quality planting materials and cassava flour processing equipment to establish eight cassava community processing centres (CCPCs) across the country.  

“The demand in Bukavu is above 11,000 t per month for the flour,” says Mulinganya. To meet the increasing demands, after ensuring the quality of the flour, IKYA buys processed cassava flour from the CCPCs. In the Katana region, IKYA purchased 14,707 kg of cassava flour from one of the CCPC’s between December 2015 and September 2016, generating a net revenue for its members of €955 (1.8 million CDF).  

In 2017, IKYA diversified into processing maize flour and trained 50 young rural maize farmers from Kamanyola district in the production of disease-free maize grain. The young farmers – known as Jeunes Entrepreneurs de Kamanyola (young entrepreneurs of Kamanyola [JEK]) have also partnered with IKYA to invest in the establishment of a new maize flour processing centre in the district, which they will supply with the raw material. This partnership is expected to increase the production capacity of IKYA from 7 to 25 t per week, expand the supply of maize flour in the province, and increase the revenues of IKYA and JEK. IKYA will also be able to export the product to nearby countries, like Rwanda, and help engage about 200 unemployed youth indirectly through maize production.  

IKYA is one of 14 agripreneur groups based across DRC, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia to receive agribusiness incubation from IITA since 2012. The youths are mentored to develop a bankable agri-enterprise business plan that can be funded by financial institutions, donors or angel investors before they exit the programme. The other 13 groups are running enterprises in horticulture, soymilk production, cassava and sweet potato value addition, fish production, fish feed manufacture, contract farming, agriculture training, grain trading, poultry and online marketing, among others. Their enterprises have provided direct livelihoods to over 300 young graduates, and capacity development to over 2,000 youths.

James Karuga

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU.