Cassava is a common staple food in Nigeria and according to data from Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, the country has the highest production quantity in the world, averaging about 60m tonnes per annum in the last few years. While release of improved varieties by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has continued to increase yield over the years, experts note that the country has failed to harness the crop properly, which results in wastage of an estimated 14 million metric tons of cassava peels annually.
Cassava needs no introduction to Nigerians and many other Africans as the root crop is used to make the popular garri, fufu, starch, and ingredients for lots of other delicacies and industrial inputs. However, consumers peel the root and discard the peels which comprises 5% to 15% of the crop. Wherever cassava is processed, you usually see huge heaps of peels which becomes a problem to dispose.
However, new studies have shown that those cassava peels we waste are highly nutritious for animal feed and if exploited to the fullest can yield at least four million tonnes of high quality animal feed ingredients valued at around USD 600m per annum. A team of experts from the International Livestock Research Institute and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture who innovate latest technology for grating, pressing, pulverising and sieving cassava peel cake have confirmed that cassava peels contain a significant amount of cyanogenic glycosides and have a higher protein content than other tuber parts.
Wet and dried are the two categories of cassava peels. These are converted into cassava peel cakes after series of manual and mechanical processes. The two types are also divided into fine and coarse mash. Existing information signifies that fine mash is appropriate for poultry, fish, and pigs while coarse mash is targeted at feeding cattle, goat, sheep and pigs. The information further indicates that fine mash has higher economic value, while coarse mash is cheaper.
To help smallholder farmers and aspiring entrepreneurs in deriving profits from the production of cassava peels cake and increasing the contribution of agriculture to the country’s Gross Domestic Product, national and international researchers have developed technologies for the enhancement of the product. This innovation has been tested by researchers and partners working with the CGIAR Research Programme on Livestock and Fish, Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics and Roots, Tubers and Bananas. I
n a recent interview, Okike Iheanacho, one of the scientists who invented the technology, says: “the new innovation quickens the drying process by removing excess water from freshly processed peels; five hundred litres of water can be removed from a ton of fresh peels in just 30 minutes.”
Processing cassava peels cake, otherwise known as HQCP (High-quality cassava peel), is produced through four stages. The first stage is the sorting of good peels from the heap of available ones. This becomes necessary because the quality of the raw material used significantly determines the output. In other words, the peels should be gathered from fresh cassava and free from contaminants. Experts say: “when processing is delayed beyond a day, the peels start to ferment and become soggy/slippery and difficult to grate.” The second stage is the grating of the peels. This must be done three times due to the harsh nature of peels. Grating reduces particle size steadily.
A hydraulic jack, wooden planks, woven bags and a metal frame are needed for pressing the grated peel in the third stage of the processing. These mechanical objects hold loaded bags of freshly grated peels. Pulverising and sieving cassava peel cake constitute specific activities in the last stage of producing the cake. To have dry mash, the peel cake is re-grated to loosen it into a free flowing material that can be subjected to sieving to separate the fine mash (lower fiber, high energy content) from coarse mash (higher fiber, lower energy content). Sieving can be done manually or by using a mechanical device.
The target market for processed cassava peel is the animal feed industry, which is a huge market in almost all countries in Africa, especially in the West region where a large number of dwellers rear different animals at home to augment their income.
Venturing into cassava peels cake would be a strategic move in addressing the lack of quality feed facing the industry. Recent statistics show that Nigeria raked in more than N800 billion in 2016. The demand for the product will always be exponential because existing feed production companies are struggling to produce feeds needed by the large livestock population in the Nigeria which is estimated at 19.5 million cattle, 72.5 million goats, 41.3 million sheep, 7.1 million pigs and 28,000 camels. Most of the animal protein supplements which could be derived from the peels cake are currently imported.
Current data indicates that the number of cattle in the country increased by 110% while sheep, pigs, and goats surged by 369%, 726%, and 249% respectively within the last 30 years. On the animal consumption level, statistics from Nigerian Institute of Animal Science revealed that in 2015, Nigeria hit 5.3 million metric tonnes of animal feeds with the following breakdown: egg, 3.1 million metric tonnes; chicken meat, 1.08 million metric tonnes; aquaculture, 647,750 metric tonnes; pork, 265,000 metric tonnes; milk, 53,000 metric tonnes; beef, 41,250 metric tonnes; pet foods, 35,000 metric tonnes respectively.
From the analysis, it could be discerned that ruminants, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry and rabbits need cassava peels cake for their survival, especially due to its digestibility and degradability. Venturing into HQCP business requires understanding the nitty-gritty of its production from agricultural, expert and business management perspectives.
For the mechanical process discussed earlier, aspiring entrepreneurs need a grater, sifting machine, pulverizer, and metal case for jack and hydraulic jack of 30 tons. The total cost of the machine is less than a million naira. The grater is the most expensive and it costs N350, 000 with a production capacity of 330kg per hour. The other equipment required is the Pulverizer which is being sold for about N300, 000 and produces 125kg per hour. The Sifting machine, metal case for jack and hydraulic jack 30 tons are being sold at N180,000, N90,000 and N15,000 respectively.
Prospective entrepreneurs have the opportunity of participating in any or all stages of the value chain which can be broken down into three parts – production coordination, market coordination, and intermediation.