Friday, September 13, 2013

Cassava more popular among the older populations in major cities in Tanzania

Over a half of the population in the three major cities in Tanzania eat cassava but nearly everyone eats maize.Furthermore, the hardy root crop, was found to be more popular among the older people who preferred  it in the form of ‘ugali’ made from its flour while the young population mostly ate it boiled.

Dr Adebayo Abass, IITA's value addition specialist briefs the cassava processors on the harmonized cassava flour standard

There is therefore a huge potential to increase the market for cassava in the country by getting more people to eat it especially the urban youth says Dr Adebayo Abass, a value chain specialist from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). 
Dr Abass was speaking at a recent training on standards for cassava flour in East Africa for cassava processors from Kigoma, Pwani and Mwanza regions held at the Lake Zone Agricultural Research Institute (LZARD) in Mwanza. The five East Africa countries harmonized their standards for cassava and potato and their products to facilitate cross-border trade.
Dr Abass said the study commissioned by IITA and conducted by Consumer Insight, asked 1,464 people in the major cities in Tanzania the important crops in their daily food. Over a half of them, 53% said they ate cassava compared to 100% of maize. 65% of them said they ate it boiled cassava while 67% consumed it as a stiff porridge ‘ugali’ made from the flour. 
Anna Mhalu from the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (second from left) oversees the practical session during the training on standards.
 “Looking at age differences, a majority of the young people between 18-24 consumed boiled cassava while among the older generation, most preferred to eat ugali made from its flour. Most of the younger people (70%)said they would like to eat cassava ugali, if the flour was white and not smelly” he said.
According to the researcher, ugali made from some traditional cassava flour is smelly while the modern processing method developed by IITA through and tested in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperation (MAFC) and the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Center (TFNC) and other partners gives non-smelly cassava ugali.
According to the study, conducted between May and July 2013, the region with the highest consumers of cassava was Mwanza and mostly in the form of cassava ugali. It was least popular in Arusha possibly because the cassava flour available in the market is grey in color (33%).
Looking at quality issues, the study found that 44% of the population wanted the cassava flour to be finely milled, 33% said they did not want smelly flour and 30% wanted it white in colour. And when asked where they wanted to buy their flour, majority said at the kiosks in the neighborhood. Only 9% said the supermarkets. Two thirds of the people interviewed also said they found it difficult to find the cassava flour because it was not available in the kiosks.
The processors spread the dried cassava mash on a raised platform to keep off livestock and dust to avoid contamination of the floor and preferably on dry black plastic bags which trap heat hastening the drying process.
Abass further advised the processors, “Looking at the whole population, majority want the flour to be white and finely milled. No one wants grey and smelly flour. That is how you should process your flour. Many of you have been targeting supermarkets, now you need to start considering the kiosks– the small shops within the residences.”
Dr Abass also added that a majority of those interviewed said that they did not want the cassava and maize flours mixed together by the processors. They prefer to buy each separately and mix at home themselves as they wish. They also preferred the packing to be in one kg packets.
The training was conducted by researchers from IITA and Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) with funds from Association for Strengthening Agriculture Research in East and Central Africa, (ASARECA).

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