Adding value: Cashing in on cassava

A cassava processing technology is turning peels into nutrient rich animal feed products and creating new markets in Nigeria’s livestock industry. Two local organisations have partnered up and are utilising the technology to reduce animal feed costs and provide long-term employment for women.

Processing cassava peels into livestock feed. © Iheanacho Okike ILRI

A technology to turn fresh cassava peels into high quality animal feed products has been developed in Nigeria. Scientists have been able to reduce the drying time of abundant, low cost peels from 3 to 1 days, and in some cases to just 6 hours. The resulting dry cake is loosened, sun dried and divided into various grades for animals such as ruminants and poultry. The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) technology will enable around 50 million t of peels that are currently being wasted each year to become a tradable livestock feed commodity, and could create approximately 100,000 jobs.

In Nigeria, nearly 3 million households (85% women) produce 50 million t of cassava annually and, each year, about 14 million t of its by-products, including peels and under-sized tubers, are thrown away. Drying and grading cassava peels provides a readily available and sustainable source of animal feeds and could provide an innovative way to boost women’s incomes in West Africa.

Market demand for cassava peel feeds has been improved in Nigeria through multiple feeding trials which demonstrated the nutritive quality of the products. As a result, Niji Foods, a cassava processing firm who participated in the trials, is setting up three cassava peel processing units. In partnership with ILRI, Niji foods will train up to 750 women and staff involved in cassava peel mash processing and business management, providing long-term employment. The organisation will also be handing over partial ownership to at least three women’s groups. ILRI programme manager, Dr Acho Okike says, “This product which is currently a waste will cost, weight for weight, half the price of maize. This means economic relief for the feed industry.” Okike continues that the new process “could also release about 2 million t of maize for human consumption that would otherwise have been used for animal feed, contributing significantly to food security efforts in the country.”

In Cameroon, a regional forum for Central African countries has been established to facilitate dialogue exchange on how to add value to cassava farming. The biennial forum organised by CTA and Plateforme Sous-Régionale des Organisations Paysannes d’Afrique Centrale, a sub-regional platform of farmer organisations in Central Africa, aims at bringing together relevant individuals and institutions in the cassava value chain to discuss challenges and opportunities in cassava farming. Vincent Fautrel, Senior Programme Coordinator for Agricultural Value Chains at CTA says, “Cassava has been associated with the rural poor for a long time, yet it has the potential to transform economies.” Fautrel urges the region to increase investments in the crop because it has helped boost agricultural production in Ghana and Nigeria.

Results of 563 agronomy trails across Nigeria and Tanzania, carried out by the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI), aim to resolve issues around fertilizer recommendation, best planting practices and intercropping to ensure year-round cultivation of the crop. Researchers are working towards developing decision support tools including nutrition management and scheduled planting to increase the productivity of cassava and improve the livelihoods of resource-poor farmers. The ACAI project aims to make recommendations that could be widely adopted on a large scale across the continent.

Sophie Reeve

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU.