Cassava is one of the most produced staple food crops in the DRC (one of the most consumed by the population). Cassava is also unique in that it can be grown in almost every province of the country. In this context, the current cassava production in the DRC is estimated at around 15 million tonnes a year, which makes it the 3rd largest one in the world, and is a major contributor to the country's economy. Unfortunately, despite the importance of cassava in the DRC, the sector remains somewhat underdeveloped compared to its economic potential.
Nevertheless, given the current trends in value chains in the agribusiness and food ecosystems, Proparco believes that there is a wide range of opportunities available for the commercial development of this value chain.
Against this backdrop, Proparco, the private sector arm of Agence Française de Développement (AFD Group), is keen to support the efforts of cassava entrepreneurs to sustain and develop the cassava sector. Proparco's support targets the entire cassava value chain, from suppliers (seeds, equipment, vehicles, warehouses), to agricultural cooperatives, and micro-finance institution…. In addition, Proparco initiative also targets the distribution of cassava products including for instance wholesale buyers, distributors and other resellers.
Founded in 2009, Qual Agric Asbl brings together small-scale farmers into professionalised cooperatives and structured farmers' organizations. Qual Agric Asbl also trains its producers in new cultivation, processing and entrepreneurial topics. Farmers affiliated to Qual Agric Asbl typically grow cassava (45%), rice (35%), corn (15%) and palm oil (5%). To date, Qual Agric Asbl has supported 12,114 farmers, 2,827 cooperatives and farmers' organizations, 60% of whom are women.
Thanks to Proparco's support, Ms Espérance Belau, President of Qual Agric Asbl, will also be working with the Fédération des Entreprises du Congo (FEC) including the Commission Nationale Agriculture et Forêt (« CNAF ») et la Commission Nationale des Femmes Entrepreneures (« CNFE »). The project will also involve emblematic agri-food cooperatives such as the Réseau National des Associations de Femmes Rurales (RENAFER) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (« IITA»), focussed on cassava value chains in Africa.
Thanks to this initiative, the project Qualagric Asbl will assist Proparco in promoting food security and local production in DRC. This is fully in line with Proparco's new 2023-2027 strategy "Agir pour plus d'impacts" (Acting for greater impact) driven by ambitious impact objectives, for a fairer and more sustainable world.
The project will contribute to several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): SDG 2 "Fight against hunger", SDG 5 "Gender equality", SDG 8 "Decent work and economic growth" and SDG 13 "Fight against climate change".