Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Researchers and partners discuss value addition in cassava through cassava-based feeds

Participants in the workshop.

More than 50 experts on cassava, nutrition and livestock, the private sector—represented by producers and feed millers—and representatives from donor groups, the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development, and development partners, came together in IITA this week to discuss how cassava residues or by-products such as cassava peels can be used in industry and to add value to the industrial cassava value chain.

The meeting, held at IITA 28-30 October, aimed to come up with a roadmap for developing a cassava-based feed system for livestock, an action plan for Nigeria, and pilot projects that would serve as models in Africa.

The meeting was organized by IITA, GCP21, the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the CGIAR Research Programs on Roots, Tubers and Bananas, Livestock and Fish, and Humidtropics, and the private livestock feed sector.

As part of Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Program, the cassava transformation plan seeks to create a new generation of cassava farmers, producers, and processors oriented towards commercial production to generate  cassava for specific value-added chains. The plan aims to turn the cassava sector in Nigeria into a major player in the local and international production and processing arena for flour, starch, sweeteners, ethanol and dried chips markets through private sector-led value-added chains.

Traditionally small farmers discard the peels that are left as waste near processing locations for feeding their animals (poultry, goats and pigs). Few attempts have been made to establish a nutritionally and economically sustainable cassava-based feed system using local products to replace imported products in the feed industry.

Enhanced production under the Cassava Transformation Plan will produce over 2 million tonnes of additional cassava by-products each year, offering a unique opportunity to support a cassava-based feed system at an industrial scale.

The use of cassava-based feeds in Nigeria will bring several benefits including cutting down on maize imports, most of which are used as feeds for livestock, according to the researchers.

“Africa imported maize worth US$4.63 billion in 2011 of which Nigeria’s feed industry alone accounted for 1.2 million tons worth about $350 million,” says Dr Iheanacho Okike, Country Representative for the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) based in Ibadan.

“If we use cassava peels for livestock feeds, for instance, we will be able to reduce the amount we spend on maize importation, and more importantly reduce the competition between man and livestock for maize,” he added.

Efforts to transform Nigeria’s agriculture have raised the production of cassava to more than 50 million tons per annum, with several factories now processing cassava to products such as flour, gari, glucose, and ethanol. This growing demand and processing of cassava is also churning out cassava residues including cassava peels to the environment.

Dr Peter Kulakow, IITA Cassava Breeder, said the “use of cassava peels in livestock
is a win-win situation for both agriculture and the environment. It is basically converting waste to wealth,” he added.

Dr Claude Fauquet, Director of GCP 21, said the use of cassava-based feeds would widen the opportunities for cassava farmers and help alleviate poverty.
Dr Claude Fauquet, Director of GCP 21, during the opening program.
According to him, Africa, being the lead producer, needs to take advantage of the crop, by creating/tapping into value addition.

Fauquet also said Nigeria produces 50% of the world’s cassava although poverty levels in the country remained high when compared with Latin America and Asia.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina praised IITA for its continuing work on cassava and for hosting the conference.

He said the government had concluded arrangements to establish additional ethanol and starch processing industries in three cities across the country to create more value addition for cassava.

Represented by Dr Martin Fregene, Senior Technical Advisor, the minister said on completion, the factories would be producing cassava residues which if converted to feeds would create additional jobs and incomes for the country.

According to him, the nation’s agricultural transformation plan aims to create about 3.5 million jobs through the establishment of agro-based industries by 2015.

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