Faustina’s Fortune: This is the story of Faustina who has now made her life and work a success thanks to Cassava. When she was just a little girl she would eat Cassava purely to prevent starvation but now it is the secret of her success.
Faustina says, “When I was young, Cassava is a poor man’s bread. Right now if you touch cassava, you are the rich people in Ghana. Yeah, just touching cassava we don’t have problem at all.”
Faustina has been processing cassava into gari, a popular food in western Africa, since she was eight years old. But much has changed over the last thirty years.
She continues, “At that time we don’t have any machine, so we did it by our hand, that was manpower. And we placed it by big stone.”
Back in the 1980s, she recognized cassava’s potential and invested in a grating machine, but her business only started flourishing when she received training on better processing techniques through the ‘Roots and Tuber’ improvement Program. Supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, or IFAD, the program set out to raise incomes of poor cassava farmers by increasing their yields and creating efficient markets, benefiting both producers and processors.
Faustina says, “I have some customers from The US, The UK, Nigeria, Mali, Niger, and so many other places. They came here and buy my gari, yeah, because of my gari now I can talk about how I’m proud of my processing. It’s good and it’s quality.”
Today Faustina employs thirty-four women and produces almost thirty tons of gari a week. She also extracts starch, which she sells to textile and pharmaceutical factories and uses the peel as animal food. So they don’t throw anything from cassava out. They use everything inside the cassava.
In June 2010, Faustina’s factory was awarded as a GPC, a Good Practicing Center and today she is the one giving advice, “Last time I was talking to them about my life and they say they want to be like me and how can we. I said it’s little by little to be like me.”
Today, thanks to cassava, Faustina owns her own home and can afford to send her children to private school. She says, “I pay their fees, I feed them and give them their money every morning. They are neat every time, so yeah, cassava has helped me to bring up my children and make them strong and tall.”
With Ghana producing twelve million tons of cassava annually, Faustina has every reason to be optimistic for her family’s future.