A climate-resilient cooperative business model for cassava processing
This climate resilience case study (No.8) from Togo is the eighth of ten case studies prepared by forest and farm producer organisations (FFPOs) for the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF).
It describes the actions of a Simplified Cooperative Society (SCoopS) NOVI VA that supports its members (95% women) to find nature based solutions (NbS) that give climate resilience.
NOVI VA was established as a Simplified Cooperative Society (SCoopS) in 1992 in Tokpo community within the Maritime region of Togo. It sought to fill a gap in cassava processing following the closure of the Ganavé cassava processing plant in 1980 due to the devastating white fly pandemic (which carried the cassava mosaic virus dis-ease [CMD]). With the recovery of cassava (Manihot esculenta), NOVI VA has specialised in the production of processed cassava products such as gari, tapioca and starch powder. Despite a setback in 2016 (involving a micro-finance scam), in 2019 this cooperative was identified as a beneficiary of the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) Phase II.
Climate change involves irregular rainfall, reduced soil fertility and deforestation (driven in part by declining yields that require a search for more cultivable land). These have led to a decrease in cassava yields, and a lack of fuelwood. The NOVI VA cooperative society has therefore moved rapidly towards climate-resilient options. In terms of agroecology, the NOVI VA members have been promoting the use of agroforestry systems (with nitrogen fixing trees such as Leucaena leucocephala to improve soil fertility and provide fuelwood). Soil conservation and mulching techniques are spreading, with integrated livestock to improve organic manure, and the use of Mucuna fallows. More resistant varieties of Cassava are being planted to maintain yields and dedicated woodlots have been established to provide the fuelwood needed to process cassava products.
Economically NOVI VA cooperative has been diversifying its product range into bread flour and Tapioca laité, with new packaging and labelling to break into the supermarket value chains. Diversification of social support networks through its membership of the Central Cereal Producers' Association of Togo (CPC), and the apex Togolese Coordination of Farmers' and Agricultural Producers' Organisations (CTOP) have helped bring in support. All these advances ae improving the resilience of farmers around Topko, demonstrating how organizational innovations within and between groups can help members with more climate resilient livelihoods.