By Malachi Motano

Farmers Trend meets Alex Ombuto 39, a graduate from Kisumu Polytechnic as an electrical engineer. Like any graduate, he had expected to secure a job upon completing his course in 2011  but landed on raw employment deals that made him lose hope and start cassava farming and later ventured in value addition on the crop.

Today earns over Sh480,000 every year after finding the magic in cassava root which he has been adding value to and making nutritional porridge, crisps and snacks.

Ombuto,“I had no idea that the cassava root I always perceived as a subsistence crop for many rural families in Kenya could be used for making affordable crisps, doughnuts, chips ,snacks, nutritional porridge and even ugali.”

He also introduced the idea to his colleagues residing in Nyawita-Kisumu and since then commercialization of cassava has been tremendously gaining popularity and many entrepreneurs and farmers are embracing the root and its products.

The trend is picking up in the upmarket Kilimani in Kisumu town where the business is booming due to the high demand from Asians and Indians living in the region.

According to a resident of Kilimani estate Austine Nyambuoro, Indians love homemade cassava crisps and doughnuts so much that they often flock my business premises in the evening to take some home.

Ombuto targets schools, local hotels, offices, supermarkets and small retail shops. More often, industrial buyers are attracted by my homemade-level value addition that simply involves cleaning, chipping and drying which greatly reduces their production costs at their plants”, he said.

A doughnut goes for Sh10 and chapati Sh20. Cakes are sold for between Sh250 to Sh500 depending on the size and are baked on order, with his sales hitting Sh30,000 during social events such as weddings and birth day celebrations where he supplies the products on order.

Together with his wife, Florence Ombuto, are now running a business with an annual turnover of Sh480, 000. They have also employed six workers whom they pay Sh250 per day.

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He is currently diversifying his business by buying more land to plant cassavas to reduce costs of purchasing the raw produce. He plans to expand business to reach the potential growth needs of many customers.

The price of his home-crisps ranges between Sh100 and Sh300, depending on quantity and size of the products. However, for his clients such as supermarkets and hotels which buys the produtcs, the cost depends on quantity purchased. Given their location, the couple enjoys monopoly.

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