There is no end to the commercial possibilities of cassava as virtually every part of the plant is industrially useful. The peels, which used to be thrown away a few years ago, are now being utilised as animal feed, but it is predominantly processed on a small scale in the rural areas. This is to change very soon as cassava peels would be on demand in commercial quantity in the very near future.
This is because the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is hosting top international researchers, decision makers, business people, and other stakeholders working in the Nigerian cassava sector this week. According to a statement by the communications department of IITA, the meeting aims to draw a roadmap for a cassava-based animal feed system that will highlight action plans for adding value to the cassava business in Nigeria. The roadmap will have a potential to serve as a model for all cassava-producing countries in Africa.
“We need to seize this opportunity and harness the benefits of every part of the cassava crop for national development, income generation, nutrition enhancement, and poverty alleviation,” says Kenton Dashiell, IITA deputy director-general, Partnerships and Capacity Development.cassava
[b]In Nigeria, annual production of cassava was discovered to be about 52.4 million metric tons in 2011. The IITA statement reveals that the increase in production of cassava roots is also generating up to 7.5 million metric tons of wet peels annually (which is 10 to 15% of the whole tuber). This cassava peels can be dried through a simple process to remove the poisonous cyanide.
Kolawole Adebayo, a lecturer at the agric extension department of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), and Bolanle Ogunlolu, his PhD student, have been working on the utilisation of cassava peels by West African dwarf goats. Their research has shown that feeding livestock with cassava peels increase their digestibility and utilisation of other feed forms. This is in addition to other health benefits.
Drawing from a recent incisive research-based report on usage of wastes in feeding of livestock and fish by BusinessDay recently, it can be recalled that apart from reducing cost of production, the utilisation of these materials also create wealth from wastes and reduce competition between man and beast for food. Cassava peels if processed right can act as energy source, a substitute for maize, which is in very high demand as food by humans.[/b]
Iheanacho Okike, a researcher with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) based in IITA, also says the peels could contribute largely to the income of farmers and provide additional economic options for livestock and fish producers if converted to animal feed. He points out that additional benefits accrue to consumers due to increased production of milk, meat and fish, and the additional availability of maize and other grains that could otherwise have gone into the feed system.
Yemisi Iranloye, chief executive of Psaltery International, a firm producing high quality cassava flour on a relatively large scale, is excited about the potential use of cassava peels in industrial production of animal feeds. She says: “Currently, my company disposes the peels in our farm adjacent to the factory to rejuvenate the soil. But I shall be glad to have another income stream from commercial demand of cassava peels.”
Chinedu Agbasonu, a university lecturer, researcher and cassava farmer, is also delighted at the idea. His concern is that the feed millers utilising cassava peels would have to be close enough to cassava producers and processors in order for this initiative to work effectively.
The IITA-hosted meeting on cassava peels utilisation involves representatives from many international research institutes and is organised by the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). CGIAR Research Programme on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) and co-hosted by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
Cassava is generally grown by smallholder farmers who appreciate its tolerance of drought and poor soils, one of the reasons why the root crop has been dubbed “the crop of the 21st Century.”