By Simeon S. Wiakanty
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Falama Incorporated, Angie Howard, has said that sourcing packaging materials from Lagos, Nigeria is a serious constraint facing local cassava processors. She made the disclosure to the Daily Observer recently at her processing center in Oldest Congo Town, outside Monrovia.
According to Madam Howard, local processors are working hard to meet the demands of the market with various cassava products, but the cost of getting packaging materials from Nigeria is greatly limiting their profit margins. “Our major challenge as processors is getting packaging materials outside the country. The plastic used for packaging the flour and the fufu comes from Nigeria, while the bottle we use for storing the coconut water and the sugar cane water as well as the janja juice, come from Nigeria. The cost for printing these materials is very high,’’ she said.
She added that her company has shifted a bit to another level in terms of processing and production that is enabling them to meet the demands of the market. “We have moved from a smaller garage to a bigger one, a level where we are able to meet the demands of the market. We have been able to process and produce cassava products into white powder and the yellow fufu powder,” she stated, noting that the products from the cassava is being used to produce pastry and light bread.
The Falama CEO has disclosed that the government of Liberia has embarked on the construction of five processing centers in Bomi, Bong, Montserrado, Grand Bassa and Sinoe counties for existing processors. “We are happy that Falama is a beneficiary of the initiative by the Liberian Government,” she said. According to her, Falama, over the years has not sped up processing and production to meet market demands due to the lack of better processing centers and equipment. “We have used the cabinet dryer, which has the capacity to produce 25kg of cassava fufu in 8 to 10 hours; it takes so long, thus limiting our ability to produce enough for the market,” she said.
Falama Incorporated is a woman-owned cassava-based company that has women making up 75 percent of its staff complement (comprising mostly single parents and widows). The company is also directly involved in the training of women farmers in processing, with the goal of economically empowering them. Falama primarily focuses on adding value to cassava through the production of various cassava products.