Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken

Dutch Diplo Talk

Linking aid and trade together with cassava

26 Feb 2015

Ambassador de Man DADTCO

Some four years ago the Dutch company DADTCO and the Mozambican brewery Cervejas de Mocambique (CDM) came to the embassy to tell about their plans to use cassava in an innovative way, for it to be used for cassava beer. From the start we were very interested. This project meant to change the subsistence crop cassava into a cash crop, turning subsistence farmers into commercial farmers.  The leaves and roots of the cassava plant are popular food in Mozambique but when you take out the roots you have to eat them immediately and you cannot trade them. What DADTCO meant to do was making cassava cake of the roots through a mobile processing unit (AMPU) which turns it into a longer lasting commodity. CDM wanted to make cassava beer, a cheaper beer with a higher alcohol percentage in order to capture the informal market of home brewed alcohol. It was obvious from the start that the farmers needed some assistance. Cassava seems to be an easy growing crop but if you want to offer a consistent supply of good quality cassava, you have to look into improved cassava plant varieties and planting, amongst other things.

For this, DADTCO started working with several international and national organizations and agencies, the internationals like IFDC (the International Fertilizer Development Center) being supported by Dutch funds. I went  to the festive launch of Impala beer in the north of the country, flying with several Mozambican ministers to Nampula and driving several hours on a dirt road to a faraway district where the AMPU was doing its work. In our speeches we dreamt of what this new approach could bring for the farmers. We are now four years further and in the meantime 6000 farmers are part of the project, not only in the province Nampula but since a few months also in the southern province of Inhambane. These farmers have now a new source of income and this has had a positive effect on their families: they have improved their houses, spent their money on better education for their children, improved water supply etc. etc. The cassava cake is being supplied to three CDM breweries and cassava beer is a success; next to the ‘regular’ beers Impala cassavae beer is now 10% of its volume of business, and CDM foresees further growth. DADTCO is investigating other use of cassava cake like for bread and pasta. I expect exciting new developments still to come.

You will ask maybe what the role of the embassy has been. We have been a sounding board, have been encouraging, advising and in particular have shown to the government of Mozambique that this is an activity worth supporting. We have been bringing people together, playing a brokering role.

Recently we visited the headquarters of CDM and had good discussions about local sourcing and corporate social responsibility. The CDM managing director asked why we were so interested and involved ‘ is it only because a Dutch company is involved?’ Yes, when Dutch companies are involved we always try to be of assistance wherever needed but this cassava programme has something additional. It shows that the most successful activities for a country like Mozambique are those that are the result of solid partnerships. In this case an innovative Dutch business, a strong Mozambican player, Mozambican national and provincial authorities and also a research institute and extension workers and Dutch financial contributions providing much needed support to the small scale farmers involved, as well as moral support. It also shows that aid and trade can be linked together with positive and sustainable results.

Ambassador de Man

Ambassador de Man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 26 Feb 2015, 8:00
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About the author

Frédérique de Man
Written by Frédérique de Man

Dutch ambassador to Mozambique

Previously Frédérique de Man was ambassador to Macedonia and Chargé d’ Affaires in Afghanistan. Apart from various other postings abroad (e.g. Tanzania, Pakistan, Paris ENA, Luxembourg, Brussels and Burkina Faso) she held several responsibilities at the Ministry in The Hague of which the one as Head of the Humanitarian Affairs Department influenced her most.