Several trainings provided by the SARD-SC project for different actors in the cassava value chain in the South Kivu Province of DR Congo, has led to the establishment of a network of cassava agroprocessors named RATSK (Reseau d’Agro Transformateurs du Sud-Kivu). This network is made of individuals belonging to different local and national organizations who have actively participated in the trainings organized by SARD-SC on the new technology developed to produce and transform the cassava crop into many marketable products.
RATSK was established in 2014 to promote agriculture in DR Congo and is led by an association called the Association Cooperative en Synergie Femme. Mrs. Felicite Kabonwa Naweza, the coordinator of the Association and RATSK said the network was established for the purpose of raising farmer awareness by grouping and training them to improve their methods of cultivating cassava and helping them create avenues to sell their finished products.
RATSK has been building its own capacity by embracing the newly introduced technologies by the SARD-SC project. Naweza said members of the network have begun to grasp the opportunities these technologies offer. “As a result, they have committed to spread these new technologies in their local areas to develop other farmers’ capacity in order to increase their cassava yield. They are also encouraging many farmers who have abandoned agriculture and those who did not have any interest in it to take up agric business in North and South Kivu provinces,” she said. This initiative also provides employment opportunities for the army of unemployed youth and others.
When RATSK became operational, only three organizations accepted to be members of the network. But due to the laudable achievements of the network, such as the production and sale of many new products made from cassava flour, high quality cassava flour, the introduction of different recipes from cassava flour, and the production of soy milk, within a few years, a lot of people have joined the organization. Also, through their participation in several agricultural shows and fairs, many people showed interest and expressed the desire to be members of RATSK. The network now has over 300 members from 10 local organizations (ISANDA, ACOSYF, GRADEM, FONIMIS, PAMED, IPAPEL, AGIR, IPLCI, CEDC, and 8em CEPAC). Each organization has between 30 and 35 members.
RATSK activities are not limited to the South Kivu province but extend to the North Kivu of DR Congo to develop the capacity of local farmers on processing cassava into marketable agricultural products using the newly developed technologies introduced by the SARD-SC project. The network has already conducted trainings in many regions of DR Congo, such as IDJWI, Walungu, Mwenga, Uvira, Kalehe, Shabunda, Fizi, and Kabare. Two thousand households have already been certified to disseminate the new technologies.