Cassava is predominately known as one of the traditional food to the local farmers in Nigeria. Cassava is one of the most popular and widely consumed food crops in Africa. Because it is such an important food in the region and an extremely versatile crop, it is commonly referred to as cornerstone of food security in Africa. The competing needs for cassava cut across both human and animal consumption.
It is fast becoming a popular raw material in industrial production and is now a preferred material for making biofuels.
Many communities have been growing cassava just for food and not for income but they have been taught by some experts here in Nigeria that cassava can earn them some good income.
Cassava is a drought surviving crop which is easy to grow and very simple to harvest. All parts of cassava are valuable. Cassava leaves can be used to make soup or as feed for livestock, the stems can be used for planting more cassava, for mushroom production or as firewood, the root can be cooked and eaten fresh or processed into flour. Cassava can also meet industrial needs such as the production of bio-fuel and starch for use in paper- and drug-making industries.
High-quality cassava flour is made within a day of harvesting the root. It is very white, has low fat content, is not sour like traditional, fermented cassava flour, does not give a bad smell or taste to food products and can mix very well with wheat flour for use in bread or cakes.
What you need to make high-quality cassava flour, you require:
- space for processing the cassava
- a store
- a facility for safe disposal of waste materials
- cassava roots
- processing equipment (knife, bowl, drying platform, grater, press and milling machine)
- Trained machine operators along with casual workers for peeling, washing, grating, pressing, drying, milling, sifting and packing.
You may be able to hire a press and grater locally. local fabricators of processing equipment are also available in some areas – ask your local extension officer or agricultural research station.
Other products you can process from Cassava production are;
1) GARI: – Success tips for aspiring Gari and Cassava producers
For any entrepreneur to favorably exploit the opportunities in this market, he/she may have to invest in cultivating the cassava crop on a farm. If you are sure of a steady and very cheap supply of the fresh cassava tubers, you are likely to succeed without your own cassava farm. However, due to the high perishab,ility of fresh cassava tubers, it may be very challenging to get the tubers to a processing centre or facility fast enough before spoilage starts.
It is also important to note that processed cassava (especially gari) is available in several different varieties. Be sure that your finished gari product appeals to the taste and tradition of your target market. Gari in Ghana may look and taste different from Nigerian or Togo gari. Even within our different countries, there are still many different types, shades and flavours of gari.
Additives such as palm oil and soya bean are sometimes used to enrich the look, feel, taste and protein content of the product. Understanding the ‘Gari’ needs of your market (quality, packaging etc) is very important so you don’t end up with the right product in the wrong market.
Gari that is not properly processed (especially by manual methods), may not last long in storage due to its high moisture (water) content. You may choose to sell the finished product as soon as it is bagged and ready. On the contrary, if moisture content in the finished product can be kept very low (using machine production), gari is known to last up to a year in storage and will command premium prices in the market during non-harvest periods.
Some things you should consider before you start…
A key success factor in this business is the nearness of a gari processing location to the source of your cassava tubers. Remember, if the tubers are not processed within 48 to 72 hours, cassava may start to spoil. If your source is far from your processing area, you may have to decide on a very reliable means of transportation to get your tubers to site as soon as possible.
Second, gari production can be a very manual process but the required labour is largely available and cheap. Using labour with previous experience of gari production from the interior villages (where the practice is prevalent) will be very helpful. However, this traditional manual production of garri is considered to be crude, uneconomic and unhygienic. Investment in cassava processing machinery may help to save a lot of costs and improve the quality of your gari. Several machines including Cassava graters, Fermentation racks, Hydraulic presses, Automatic Garri Fryers and Vibrating Sieves are available and can make the production process hygienic and economical.
2) Cassava Bread:-
Cassava bread is seen as an important part of indigenous peoples’ traditional diet. It is said to keep away ‘new-world’ diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, high blood pressure and obesity. Cassava, also known as manioc or yuca in the Americas, is widely used all over the world as a staple. It is one of the food crops developed by Indigenous Agriculturists.
Traditional Cassava Bread of Indigenous People
Traditional Cassava bread of indigenous people should not be confused with western-style bread made from cassava flour. Following the recipe of indigenous peoples of South America, no salt, sugar, oil, butter, baking powder or yeast is added. When dried properly the bread can last for days, weeks or even months.
The bread is used as a basic staple. Its plain taste can be delightfully flavored and enhanced by eating with dishes of other flavours. The bread is filler because it swells with the addition of digestive juices. To be enjoyed, it has to be properly dried to biscuit type dryness or consumed within a day after baking. The thick, moist type (arasoka) if kept overnight can be returned to an enjoyable state if mildly simmered in a gravy. One of the best ways to enjoy traditional cassava bread is according to the traditional way.
The traditional cassava flour of indigenous people is made purely from the cassava root and processed until it is a soft coarse meal, similar to moist corn meal.
Properly, processed cassava flour in whatever state is healthy and can be a great substitute for persons looking for gluten free and wheat free flour.
Since cassava flour is gluten-free and wheat-free, the bread made from the flour can be used as a substitute for those who suffer from celiac disease.
Cassava bread is also suggested for diabetic and obese people. It can also be a good substitute for a person who wishes to have bread that is free from additives.
Method of making Cassava Bread
- Measure flour in mixing bowl.
- Gently pour in the water to thoroughly mix with the entire amount of flour stirring with tablespoon all the while. You will have a basic grainy mixture.
- With this mixture, take the table spoon and use the bottom to break up the mixture and take out the lumps by pressing down, pulling and turning in short strokes. This will result in a fluffy consistency. (You can use your fingers but this takes longer)
- The flour is now ready for baking
- Heat pan on moderate heat and place pizza hoop (inside smooth rim touching pan) to receive the flour.
- In the smaller wide mouth bowl measure in about 9 (nine)heaped filled table spoons of prepared flour and carefully place the measured flour in the heated pan. Spread evenly outward with the bottom of the tablespoon to the inner sides of the hoop. Use spoon bottom to press flour into place.
- Take potato masher and further press flour firmly into place and shape. Concentrate on the rim.
- Allow to bake for three to four mins (3 – 4 mins) or until bread leaves the side of hoop.
- Remove hoop.
- With spatula, gently turn bread over. Allow to cook for another three to four mins (3 – 4 mins).
- Take bread out of pan and place on cooling tray. (I use my chips baking net)
- Use the same day with your favourite spread, fish or meat. Enjoy!
3) Cassava Fufu
Cassava Fufu is regarded as the most traditional Nigerian fufu meal. There are powder versions of other Nigerian fufu meals which make it easy for modern day ajebutters to prepare them but not this one. I fear that this meal is becoming extinct because 21st century babies do not want to prepare it any more.
In Igboland, Cassava fufu is mostly eaten with the very traditional Nigerian soups for swallows such as Bitterleaf Soup and Ora Soup but like other Nigerian fufu meals, you can eat it with all other Nigerian soup except pepper soups.
How to Extract Cassava Fufu from Cassava Tubers (Yuca)
Cassava Fufu is the most traditional Nigerian fufu meal. Here, I will give details of how to extract it from cassava tubers.
What you need
- Cassava tubers (Yuca)
- Baking soda (optional)
- Lime juice
Notes about the ingredients:
- Cassava tubers (Yuca) are cultivated in Africa and South America. They can be purchased from African food shops all over the world.
- Water is used for soaking the cassava tubers and when separating the chaff from the cassava fufu.
- Baking soda: Freshly harvested cassava ferments in 3 to 4 days. If it is not freshly harvested, it may never ferment especially when you buy the cassava outside Africa or South America.
If that is the case, add baking soda or sodium bicarbonate to the pieces of cassava before leaving it to ferment. This helps with the fermentation. For 1 medium tuber of cassava, add 2 teaspoons of baking soda.
If you just harvested the cassava from your farm or garden, there will be no need to add this catalyst.
- Lime juice helps keep the cassava fufu from darkening.
- Container with a cover
- 2 big bowls
- Food safe gloves
- Muslin bag
- Plastic bag
Notes about the utensils:
- You will use the container with cover for soaking the pieces of cassava tubers after peeling them.
- You will place the sieve in one big bowl while the clean water for rinsing is placed in another.
- The sieve is used to separate the chaff from the cassava fufu. Sieves that are abrasive on the inside do a better job of this that those that are smooth to touch.
- Cassava fufu, especially the water used in fermenting it, has a very pungent smell. You need gloves to handle these so that your hands will not smell for weeks after this task.
- A muslin bag is any bag that allows only water to pass through it. It is usually sewn with cotton or calico material. Some people use brand new pillow cases for this.
- You need a cup for bailing the clean water onto the cassava fufu in the sieve.
- A plastic bag helps make the container airtight before setting it aside to ferment.
- Cut up the cassava tubers into 2 inch long cylindrical pieces and peel off the skin.
- Rinse them thoroughly and put in a big enough containers with a cover.
- Pour cool water to cover the pieces of cassava.
- Drape the top of the container with a plastic bag. Then cover with the container cover.
- Keep in a warm place and leave it alone to ferment for 3 to 4 days. Do not touch it during this time. Don’t change the water, don’t do anything to it
- After 4 days, you will notice that it is completely fermented. Pour out the water and set the container aside.
- Set up the utensils you will use for sifting the cassava fufu. Click here to see what my set up looks like.
- Sift it to separate the chaff from the cassava fufu. To do this:
- A) Put a small quantity of the fermented cassava in the sieve.
- B) Crush it by rubbing them with your hands.
- C) Add some water to it. The cassava fufu will pass through the sieve while the chaff will remain in the sieve.
- D) Keep going till you are left with just the chaff. Rinse it with the clean water
- When done with the first batch, repeat the process for the rest of the fermented cassava.
- When done with all the fermented cassava fufu, cover the bowl and leave to settle for at least 3 hours.
- After at least 3 hours, you will notice that the water is clearer.
- Slowly decant only the water and pour the cassava fufu into the muslin bag.
- Place it on the side of your kitchen sink to drain. To speed that up, place a heavy object on the bag of cassava fufu.
- Leave it to drain till the cassava fufu feels solid to touch.
- Put the cassava fufu in a container, beat it down to make a smooth surface and sprinkle some lime juice all over the top. Cover and place in your fridge till when you want to pound it.
Other uses or products from Cassava include;
Animals and livestock are important to the world ecosystem and feeding. They produce milk, meat, wool and other essentials we humans can’t do without. Animal breeders in Europe and America make use of cassava products like flakes, pellets, chips, cubes and flours to feed their farm animal in order to get top yield. This is because these cassava products are cheap and deliver good results at the end of the farming period. This is why cassava product from Nigeria have become of high demands for farmers in countries like Germany, France, US, UK and the Netherlands.
Ethanol is produced by fermenting and distilling cassava. Ethanol has various industrial uses: It can be mixed with petrol or used on its own as a transport fuel. It can also be used as a base for alcoholic beverages. Lastly, ethanol can be utilized as industrial alcohol which is important in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry.
Cassava starch can be extracted from cassava roots to form starch, which are used by the food industry, but is also used by the paper and textile industry, as well as an adhesive in glass, mineral wool and clay.
Cassava is also used in the making of glucose and alcohol which are an essential commodity in many industries from pharmaceuticals to food canning. Cassava product is also very useful in the confectioneries for the making of a large variety of food items including ice cream, jelly beans, jams, sweets and gums. Recently, many fruit juice manufacturers are now beginning to replace sucrose with dextrose, which is a product of cassava. The latter is preferred to the former due to the absence of the dangerous sulfur-dioxide, and because it helps preserve the original flavor of the fruit and reduces the tendency of it becoming crystallized into sugar.
Cassava product is also used to produce caramel which is used as coloring agent in food, confectioneries and liquor; because it is cheaper than other alternatives and provides greater coloration.
Accessible markets for Cassava and its products include bakeries, millers and paper industries, schools, hospitals, shops, kiosks, hotels, restaurants and local famine relief agencies.