One of the Government funded agriculture projects through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL), Sape farm is bearing successful results as its cassava tubers now exported overseas since last year with more export expected this year and in the coming years as there is huge interests and demand for cassava.
Managing Director of Sape farm, Dr. Paul Bosawai Popora says.
He said last year, Sape farm in partnership with Varivao Holdings Ltd exported 14 tonnes of (its) cassava tubers to Australia, the first export after its establishment in 2018.
“And in April this year, Sape farm delivered its second export of 15.834 tonnes of cassava tubers yet again through Sape-Varivao partnership to Australia. This second export included 4.9 tonnes from one of our (Sape farm) out grower which generated a total of 20.734 tonnes under Sape farm management,” Dr. Paul said.
At the moment Dr. Paul is embarking on alternatives to make direct export possible with the construction of a processing facility.
“I am now trying to build a processing facility. It will be simple to make export possible. I have purchased some materials and the farm boys do the construction work. We expect to do more export next year (2022) on our own,” Dr. Paul said.
He said “Sape farm believes in empowering out growers so, for the export Varivao did in April, we provide 15.8 tonnes and our out grower Ben Pogular supplied 4.9 tonnes of cassava tubers. It is the vision of the sape farm to engage our out growers in all export activities we do.”
While acknowledging Varivao Company for the partnership, Dr. Paul took the time to explain the processes that they went through during harvest and also its challenges.
“We harvested at night from 7pm to 6am and then we cut both ends. We do this to reduce post harvesting deterioration rate. We harvest an average of 3 tonnes per night. It involved a lot of work but we managed to do it with the hard work of the farm workers.
“The challenge is to process within a short period of time. If we have a storage facility, we will be able to harvest during the day and control our loading quantity. However, with the great team work, we are able to meet the harvesting quantity Varivao needs,” Dr. Paul explained.
On the Sape-Varivao partnership Dr. Paul said, it is ideal for now but to go commercial they need consistent harvesting and export.
“I thank the Varivao management for buying the cassava tubers from us and our out-grower. We really need consistent export to which we now already have our buyers ready for up to three (3) containers a month. We only need a processing facility to make this possible.”
When asked regarding the root crop (cassava) potential to the local economy, Dr. Paul said cassava has known potential and unknown potentials. “We have to do it right and indeed it will aid our economic growth. Only if we have appropriate mechanisms like processing facilities then going into large scale farming would be possible to absorb farmers who are cultivating this root crop (cassava) and in that way it will encourage more people to engage in cassava farming,” Dr. Paul emphasised.
In May 2020, the Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) and Sape farm management signed a 2.7 million funding support agreement that will see cassava root crop transform into an industry in the future.
Of the 2.7 million support, about 1.7million was used up to support establishment of the farm last year 2020. The 1 million still outstanding will be used to support construction of the farm processing facility and needed equipment. Sape Farm is co-financing the processing facility.
The funding agreement and partnership was an initiative to support the government’s Food Security Programme and it would cater for farming machineries and tools, processing and refrigeration machines and working capital.
“While cassava has been here with us we have not been able to go commercial and export so it is time we do that.” Dr Paul said, he is so humbled by the MAL support that is making Sape Farm the leader in cassava commercial farming in the country.