Innovation turns cassava peels into animal feed in Africa

A few years ago, on his return from a trip to Australia, he decided to embark on the cassava value chain. Nigeria is the world’s largest cassava producer – nearly 60 million tonnes are harvested each year, or 20 percent of global production – but stay, supply cannot keep up with the country’s domestic demand.

Unlike other crops, Ogunlade explained, he would never have problems obtaining the raw material: “Cassava is basically all around us in the southwest, in this part of Nigeria. You don’t have the panic, the fear that he won’t be available. “

He invested in a cassava processing plant, and began producing the staple food of West Africa, garri, the flour made from the tuberous roots of the cassava plant. But there was a lot of competition in the industry, and Ogunlade started looking for ways to add value.

To make garri, the cassava roots must be peeled. Traditionally, the peels were dumped in huge piles and burned, or left to rot, turning them into an environmental hazard, as the toxic compounds in the raw peels were leached into the waterways.

Some growers have attempted to air dry the peels for use as animal feed, but this process takes 3-5 days and the peels are susceptible to contamination with fungal toxins, especially during the season. rains.

In 2015, Acho Okike and other researchers from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) developed a technique to turn wet cassava peels into high-quality, safe and nutritious feed in eight hours – turning three tons of wet peel into one ton of dried cassava peel mash.

Growing industry

The key innovation was to grate the peels and then crush them in a hydraulic press to quickly remove the liquid, says Tunde Amole, a researcher at ILRI in Nigeria.

The process produces a kind of “cassava peel cake”, which is then grated again, forming particles of uniform size, which dry within a few hours. The resulting product, called “High Quality Cassava Peel” or HQCP, has only 10-12% moisture content and can be kept for six months.

Coarse fiber-rich particles can be separated for feeding pigs and ruminants, while fine protein-rich particles can be fed to poultry. A series of tests conducted by ILRI and other Nigerian researchers found that HQCP could be used to replace significant amounts of corn in the diet of weaned and growing pigs without any impact on their health or weight gain.

Ogunlade attended one of ILRI’s training sessions on the new technique and now runs one of dozens of cassava peel factories across Nigeria. He sells the dried hide to feed wholesalers, who resell it to breeders like John Olateru.

Olateru is a poultry farmer in Ibadan, where he has around 50,000 chickens for eggs and human consumption. When he first heard about the use of cassava peels for livestock feed, he was skeptical – he had tried using cassava-derived feeds in the past and found that they had very low nutritional content. But he sent HQCP to a few labs for independent testing and was impressed with the results. Then he tried mixing it 50/50 with corn and gave it to the chickens.

They’ve grown so well that now some of them are fed entirely with HQCP, and the cost is about half that of corn. If he could, he would only use cassava peels – which would further reduce the cost of production – but he cannot source enough, as demand is now much higher than supply.

For Ogunlade, this makes HQCP a lucrative business. “I am very happy to have entered it.” He has largely stopped making garri himself and now buys the peels directly from nearby garri growers – the peels are where the profits are, he says.

Ogunlade works with ILRI to provide free training on cassava peel processing for young unemployed people. “This is really a new area of ​​job creation, especially for young boys and girls between the ages of 20 and 25,” he says. The majority of people working in the new factories are women, resulting in increased income and livelihoods.

Turn garbage into cash

The simple innovation has had cascading benefits for Nigeria, says Amole, who is now leading HQCP training, scale-up and experimental testing for ILRI.

“It’s a form of circular economy,” he says. “Turning waste into wealth, turning waste into cash. I’m excited about it.”

In the Ogunlade region, the polluting piles of cassava peels have almost completely disappeared.

“The piles of rotten peels could be as big as a house. They would smoke and burn or smell during the rains, and if you were going through a garri industry, you would feel sorry for the air pollution.” , says Ogunlade. “But you can’t find that anymore. Those piles are gone, they’re using this space for something good now.”

Cassava peels also have the potential to make animal production cheaper, making protein more accessible to the poorest people in the country. Producing HQCP costs about 60 to 70 percent of the cost of other foods, says Amole. This is particularly important at this time, as the price of common staple corn has nearly doubled over the past year, due to the Covid-19 disruption and terrorism in the corn growing areas of Nigeria in the north. -west of the country. Although they don’t quite reach the nutritional quality of corn, cassava peels are a cheaper, safe and still available alternative, says Amole.

Cassava peels left to rot (left). Processing them into usable and nutritious peels for livestock (right) is a sustainable and cost-effective way to reduce the environmental risks of cassava peel rotting. Photos by I. Okike / ILRI / IITA

The growing interest in HQCP from entrepreneurs like Ogunlade and breeders like Olateru shows how useful innovation is, says Alan Duncan of ILRI, who oversaw the project. “This is our dream – if the technology catches the interest of the private sector and then they use it and use it, then for us this is a great result. This is the only way to extend it. “

He hopes to see the technology adopted by other countries – elsewhere in Africa, Asia and Latin America as well.

“It’s relevant wherever cassava is grown, through wet topics – it’s in its infancy now, but it could really become a big deal,” he said.

Cassava-producing powers Ghana, Liberia and Senegal are already interested, says Amole, but Covid-19 travel restrictions have also slowed progress – it’s hard to train people to use mechanical equipment in line. “I look forward to many donors to increase this, to see how it can fly.”

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