Tag Archives: postharvest

Competition calls for innovative packaging of cassava stems to increase sales

A new competition is calling for innovative packaging designs to sell bundles of high quality cassava stems in Nigeria.

The competition has been launched by the ‘Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Seed System for Cassava in Nigeria’ (BASICS) project, which aims to develop a sustainable cassava seed value chain in Nigeria, based on the commercial production and dissemination of improved cassava planting material.

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A farmer carries a bunch of cassava stems in Nigeria. Photo IITA

This seed value chain will serve as a vehicle to deliver better quality and more productive cassava varieties in order to improve productivity and food security, increase incomes of cassava growers, processors and village seed entrepreneurs, and enhance gender equity in Nigeria.

Currently, most cassava farmers use the stems from their own farm for planting or buy stems of dubious quality from the local market. To sustainably and significantly change farmers’ behavior to buy improved and quality certified stems, at least two things need to happen:

  1. The improved variety stems need to result in the farmers getting higher cassava production and ultimately translate that into higher net incomes, consistently, meaning that the variety needs to meet the contextual market demand. (Substance)
  2. The improved stems need to be presented well, packaged well and they need to result in a visibly improved crop stand in the farmers’ fields. (Style)

While the ‘substance’ is of greater importance in long term success, the ‘style’ is important to get the attention of the market to influence the initial buying behavior and hence is a vital part of marketing of any new product or service.

This competition invites innovative ideas for the ‘style’ or presentation of the cassava stems. Participants should submit their proposal in maximum of three pages on how to make a bundle of improved/certified cassava stems more marketable to farmers on a large scale.

Entries must include the following:

  1. Your contact details and a brief profile
  2. Cassava stem bundle treatment, packaging, labeling and handling proposal
  3. Overall additional cost per bundle of 50 one-meter stem cuttings (you can make explicit assumptions to get reasonable economies of scale)
  4. What attributes brought about through your proposal do think will entice the farmers to pay the higher price to buy your bundle of stems and come back as a repeat buyer or become an advocate for it?

Eligibility
Any individual or a group of individuals or an institute who has the ability to demonstrate the proposal in Nigeria is eligible to participate.

Reward

  1. $1,000 cash prize for the best proposal
  2. A Certificate Of Appreciation for the TOP THREE proposals signed by the Program Director, CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) and Deputy Director General for Research, IITA
  3. $5,000 award for implementing a pilot project of the proposal as a part of the BASICS project. (only if the committee feels the technology/proposal is mature enough to be piloted)

Judging criteria
Entries will be judged based on attractiveness of the proposed presentation of the stems in the eyes of various stakeholders, practicality of the proposal, on ease of availability of additional inputs being suggested, ease of handling of the bundle, tamper proof certification tagging of the bundle, overall cost and value for money considerations.

Important note
Please note that this is not a research proposal. It is expected that you would have experimented and come up with something that is now ready to be tested on a commercial pilot level. Or it could be a proven native knowledge that has been lost to the world and is waiting to be rediscovered. There could be ideas that improve the packaging of the stems and improve ease of handling, there could be methods for improving the look and feel through some low cost dyeing of the stems or some nutrient/fungicide dips to improve the crop establishment in the field. Your proposal could address just one or multiple issues at the same time and the most commercially viable proposal will be picked.

Submissions
The entries should be submitted in the format mentioned above and should not be more than three pages long. The committee may seek more information at an appropriate time, if required.

Entries should be emailed to h.nitturkar@cgiar.org by July 25, 2016.

Download the full competition details

Transforming the value chain – one cooking banana at a time

This is the first installment in a series of in-depth blogs investigating the ways in which the RTB-ENDURE project is strengthening the value chains for root, tuber and banana crops in Uganda. Through firsthand accounts from the farmers, traders and scientists at the heart of the project we get an inside look in to the effect this is having on the ground. Reporting and photography by Sara Quinn, Regional Communications Specialist, the International Potato Center.

View the full photo story here

Adding value and reducing postharvest losses in Uganda’s cooking banana value chain

Cooking banana is the main staple crop in Uganda produced mostly by smallholders for food and income. However, the cooking banana value chain  actors face risks of high postharvest losses due to the short green life of bananas and damage arising from poor  handling of the produce after it is harvested, leading to high physical and economic losses.

A detailed market study was conducted in Isingiro, Rakai and metropolitan Kampala in Uganda to identify and describe the key players in the banana value chain and establish the current demand and future growth prospects of the different banana presentation forms. The study also established the level of sorting and grading in the banana value chain, the level of use of the weight-based pricing system and the actor’s willingness to pay for its introduction, along with determining the extent and causes of postharvest losses along the banana value chain.

Results show that the cooking banana value chain is characterized by a large number of middlemen (5-7) between producers and consumers, which is partly responsible for high consumer prices and increased postharvest losses as the bananas change hands.

Cooking banana for sale at a market in Mbale, Uganda. Photo S.Quinn/RTB

Cooking banana for sale at a market in Mbale, Uganda. Photo S.Quinn/RTB

The results further show that there are four market-preferred varieties; Nakitembe, Musakala and Mbwazirume, plus Kibuzi which also has a long shelf-life. While these varieties are not widely grown by farmers, they are willing to purchase clean planting materials of these varieties if available.

Bananas are traded mainly as bunches and unpeeled fingers at all levels, but also as clusters and peeled fingers at retail level. Clusters and peeled fingers are missing at the primary production end of the value chain. There is an increasing demand for peeled bananas by customers at retail level, therefore retailers could demand for peeled bananas right from the farm. It was also noted that there is an increased demand for smaller units and convenient forms of presentation, such as packaged peeled and unpeeled fingers to cater for the changes in demographics.

All the value chain actors grade banana bunches by size while only exporters grade by variety, appearance, size and shape of fingers. However, the majority of people working in throughout the value chain recognize the importance of sorting and grading and are willing to adopt the practice. The consumers also show willingness to pay a premium if such products were availed on market.

A banana exporter preparing her bananas, Uganda. Photo S.Quinn/RTB

A banana exporter preparing her bananas, Uganda. Photo S.Quinn/RTB

Unit prices are determined by visual inspection. However, the actors recognize that this system is arbitrary and presents risks for unfair marketing transactions. Unlike other value chain actors, exporters buy and sell banana using a weight-based pricing system, yet their suppliers negotiate (through brokers) the bunch price at the farm using visual inspection. Post-harvest losses along the chain are high.

Substantial amounts of banana are thrown away (physical losses) particularly during the peak harvesting seasons and even higher volumes incur some degree of quality deterioration leading to lower selling price (economic losses). The study has estimated the extent of physical and economic post-harvest losses at each stage of the value chain. Female value chain actors experience higher losses compared to their male counterparts.  Major causes of the losses are bruising, ripening, finger plucking and scotching.

A woman harvests bananas in Uganda. Photo S.Quinn/RTB

A woman harvests bananas in Uganda. Photo S.Quinn/RTB

The study has revealed various challenges and opportunities. Targeted interventions can be designed to address these challenges and also take advantage of the opportunities. Such interventions would reduce post-harvest losses and narrow the gap between farm-gate and retail prices.

This study has  been conducted in the framework of “Expanding Utilization of Roots, Tubers and Bananas and Reducing Their Postharvest Losses” (RTB-ENDURE), a 3 year project (2014-2016) implemented by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) with funding by the European Union and technical support of IFAD.

Making use of sweetpotato vines as silage

When James Francis Ojakol enrolled for a Master degree in animal science at Makerere University, he had no idea how he would finance his studies nor what area to study.

An opportunity from International Potato Center (CIP) to fund a research project fell into his lap.
Uganda is hosting a three-year $4m (Shs13.4b) project, funded by the European Union, which will expand the utilization of roots, tubers and bananas and reduce their post-harvest losses. The project is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas, of which CIP is the lead center.

Among other things the project will improve utilisation of sweet potato vines, roots and peels as pig feeds in Uganda, said Diego Naziri, a post-harvest specialist at CIP in Uganda and the leader of the project.

Read the full story at the Ugandan Daily Monitor website.

 

Making use of sweetpotato vines as silage

When James Francis Ojakol enrolled for a Master degree in animal science at Makerere University, he had no idea how he would finance his studies nor what area to study.

An opportunity from International Potato Center (CIP) to fund a research project fell into his lap.
Uganda is hosting a three-year $4m (Shs13.4b) project, funded by the European Union, which will expand the utilization of roots, tubers and bananas and reduce their post-harvest losses. The project is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas, of which CIP is the lead center.

Among other things the project will improve utilisation of sweetpotato vines, roots and peels as pig feeds in Uganda, said Diego Naziri, a post-harvest specialist at CIP in Uganda and the leader of the project.

Quality animal feed
Ojakol is now engaged in a two-year research that will contribute to this project. His topic is ‘Evaluation of Sweetpotato Silage as a Basel Diet for Growing Pigs’.

“The general objective is to improve pig production in Uganda through the use of sweetpotato silage as a low cost and high quality feed,” he says.

Research has already established that sweetpotato is a good feed for animals and livestock and specifically pigs. Ojakol’s research is of utmost importance to farmers in Uganda for many reasons. Research shows that feeding costs for pigs represent about 70 per cent of the variable costs in smallholder farms.

Pigs in Uganda feed on sweetpotato silage. Photo S.Quinn/RTB

Pigs in Uganda feed on sweetpotato silage. Photo S.Quinn/RTB

Indeed, women and the youth will benefit more from Ojakol’s research and the silage technology most since they are more responsible for pig management at a household level. Silage will reduce the time for sourcing feeds and reduce on the use of fuel like firewood for cooking them.

“Women are participating more in growing sweetpotatoes and in keeping pigs. Of course, unfortunately, they have the challenge of feeds, so they can’t keep a lot,” notes Gerald Kyalo, the principal investigator of the project.

“If we can get these women to make silage, that means they can increase the number of pigs they are keeping and of course that then will increase income.”

Prevent wastage
Uganda ranks number one, in East Africa, in pork per capita consumption. In Uganda, 44 per cent of farmers grow sweetpotatoes but the vines are discarded after harvesting and left to rot in the gardens.

A farmer with sweetpotato silage he has prepared for his animals, Uganda. Photo S.Quinn/RTB

A farmer with sweetpotato silage he has prepared for his animals, Uganda. Photo S.Quinn/RTB

Yet they can be ensilaged and used as pig feed during the dry season when there is feed scarcity.
Sweetpotato is the third most important food crop after cassava and bananas in Uganda. In Africa, Uganda is now the leading producer of sweetpotato only second to China in the world. However, simple technologies like ensilaging have not yet been embraced.

The simple affordable technology of ensilaging the roots and vines will help to prevent wastage of valuable feed resources, adds Kyalo.

Sweetpotato is seasonal. There are times after harvesting that farmers have a lot of sweet potatoes and during harvesting they waste all the vines. Yet these same farmers have pigs. So, during times of scarcity like during the dry season, they really have nothing to feed the pigs.

“Our objective is to bridge the gap of feed scarcity especially during the dry season. We are introducing silage making to farmers, teach them how to make silage of good quality, how to supplement it, and how to feed their pigs. This will bridge the gap of lack of feeds and actual expensive feed,” observes Kyalo.

Potential benefits
“The processed sweetpotato residues offer an inexpensive and nutritious alternative feed ration for livestock that may increase economic returns,” Dr Jolly Kabirizi, a researcher at the Ugandan National Livestock Resources Research Institute, points out. The roots are a good source of energy and the vines a source of protein but they are highly perishable.

Kabirizi said sweetpotato has potential benefits to poor farm households and urban consumers especially when other crops fail or in specific seasons before the main harvest.

Ojakol’s research has three specific objectives; to determine the quality of silage prepared from sweet potato vines, the nutrient digestibility of sweetpotato silage in growing pigs and to determine the growth performance of pigs fed on sweet potato silage.

The research has four arms: the control is the commercial diet with pigs fed on a mixture of maize brand, omena and cotton seed.

Others are fed on ensilaged sweet potato vines mixed with five per cent maize brand; ensilaged sweet potato vines mixed with five percent cassava flour and ensilaged sweetpotato vines only.
“Our intention is, first of all, to get the right ratios for silage. And I think we are already making progress with the research on the station,” says the principal investigator Kyalo.

He adds they also want the farmers they have trained to take up silage making as a business.
Many of the places, Masaka and Kamuli, have a lot of sweetpotatoes and can easily start selling silage.

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A field of sweetpotato growing in Uganda. Photo S.Quinn/CIP

Silage is made in a vacuum. When you open it, it can stay for 10 days, according to Kabirizi. You can make several drums and open them one at a time.

Ojakol spends most his study time at Kamenyamiggo Satelitte Station, which is under Naro’s Mukono Zardi, where the research is taking place. He has to make the silage and he keeps on recording the weight gain for the pigs. For Ojakol the timing has never been better. “We have no doubt that Ugandan pigs will like silage and farmers will sell it and benefit from it too,” he says with a smile.

The principle of silage making
At harvest, plant cells do not immediately “die”; they continue to respire as long as they remain adequately hydrated and oxygen is available. The oxygen is necessary for the physiological process of respiration, which provides energy for functioning cells. In this process, carbohydrates (plant sugars) are consumed (oxidised) by plant cells in the presence of oxygen to yield carbon dioxide, water and heat: sugar + oxygen = carbon dioxide + water + heat.

Once in the silo, certain yeasts, moulds and bacteria that occur naturally on forage plants can also reach populations large enough to be significant sources of respiration. In the silage mass, the heat generated during respiration is not readily dissipated, and therefore the temperature of the silage rises.

Although a slight rise in temperature from 80° to 90°F is acceptable, the goal is to limit respiration by eliminating air (oxygen) trapped in the forage mass. Some air will be incorporated into any silo during the filling process, and a slight increase in silage temperature is likely. These temperature increases can clearly be limited by harvesting at the proper moisture content and by increasing the bu k density of the silage.

Generally, it is desirable to limit respiration during the fermentation process by using common sense techniques that include close inspection of the silo walls prior to filling, harvesting the forage at the proper moisture content, adjusting the chopper properly (fineness of chop), rapid filling, thorough packing, prompt sealing and close inspection of plastics for holes.

Read the original article by Esther Nakazzi on the Ugandan Daily Monitor website

Reinforcing the gender lens in research on value chains and technology adoption

The following post by André Devaux, Claudia Babini, Diego Naziri, Caitlin Kieran, and Evgeniya Anisimova was originally published on the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets website.

The CGIAR Research Programs on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) and on Roots, Tubers, and Bananas (RTB) have been collaborating on reinforcing the gender focus in research on value chains development and technology adoption for a few years now. In this post, our colleagues from the International Potato Center (CIP) share some recent updates on this work from Uganda and Latin America and Caribbean region.

Gender-sensitive value chain development

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Cassava traders at a market in Uganda

Building on work developed by PIM and RTB in 2014 and 2015 to produce gender-sensitive tools to make value chain interventions more gender responsive, the International Potato Center (CIP) team in Uganda is now conducting gender analysis for on-going
postharvest research activities in the cassava, sweet potato, banana, and potato value chains. In December 2015, under auspices of the RTB project on Expanding Utilization of Roots, Tubers and Bananas and Reducing Their Postharvest Losses (RTB-ENDURE) and with support from PIM, CIP Uganda organized a workshop with the banana and potato sub-project partners and beneficiaries in order to impart skills and tools to identify, analyze, and devise strategies for mitigating gender-based constraints in value chain interventions.

The four-day gender training focused on sensitizing participants on the importance of gender responsive postharvest research as well as engendered business planning. During 2016, the team will continue to work on refining the gender analytical tools to enhance their usability by practitioners from the research and development sector.
Read the workshop report

Gender factors influencing technology adoption

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Potato traders in Mbale, Uganda.

Most studies find that men are generally more likely to adopt new technologies compared to women (Ragasa, 2012). These differences may be the result of gender gaps in access to and control over inputs, such as land, credit, labor, and extension services. From December 2015 to January 2016, CIP researchers conducted focus group discussions and administered questionnaires to local technicians working in communities in Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador in order to identify the factors affecting the dissemination and adoption of agricultural technologies by men and women. This research project, co-financed by the RTB Gender Integration Project and PIM Flagship 3 on Inclusive Value Chains and Efficient Trade, aims to produce recommendations for designing and implementing technology diffusion initiatives with a gender perspective in order to help development practitioners design and disseminate agricultural technologies that will be adopted by and benefit both men and women.

This research initiative builds upon work conducted in 2014 and 2015 by CIP in Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region to develop recommendations to reinforce gender mainstreaming in agricultural technology innovation processes for food security. These recommendations will be used as capacity building material in LAC and other regions in the implementation projects with national partners.

For more detail see: Technology for men and women: Recommendations to reinforce gender mainstreaming in agricultural technology innovation processes for food security (English version and Spanish version)

Six steps forward for root and tuber crops

Graham Thiele, Program Director, CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) shares his top six highlights from the first World Congress on Root and Tuber Crops, January 18 – 22, Nanning, China.

With root and tuber crops providing food for than 2.2 billion million people around the globe, it is no surprise that our efforts to improve these crops are so broad and geographically dispersed. The first World Congress on Root and Tuber Crops, which has just wrapped up in Nanning, China, brought together hundreds of experts working on various areas in the value chain and  is a special forum to share advances across all our crops.

This is one of the reasons why RTB is so pleased to support the International Society for Tropical Root Crops (ISTRC) and Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21) as co-organizers. For me, it was also great to see so many friends and colleagues in the roots and tubers community and catch up on progress. There is so much to report back, but I do have a few highlights from the week which particularly struck me to share.

Omics and beyond

It’s astonishing the progress made with understanding the genetic makeup of root and tuber crops and the different pathways from genes to trait expression which the new science of ‘omics’ has made possible. It was impressive to see the progress made by our Chinese colleagues, including a lively presentation from Songbi Chen of the Tropical Crops Genetic Resources Institute of the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences (CATAS) on the application of proteomics cassava breeding to understand how we could improve photosynthetic efficiency and starch accumulation in roots, thus potentially increasing their dry matter content.

A CIAT researcher examines cassava buds in the lab. Photo: N.Palmer/CIAT

A CIAT researcher examines cassava buds in the lab. Photo: N.Palmer/CIAT

Cassava as animal feed

I knew that cassava is a potential feed for livestock but I hadn’t understood that it actually has some special advantages. The presentation from Uthai Kanto, Associate Professor at Kasetsart University, and of the Thai Tapioca Development Institute (TTDI) explained how the fermentation and slight acidity of cassava chips inhibits mycotoxins when it used as a feed. Additionally the presence of low and non-toxic levels of cyanide even gives immunity to disease. These factors mean it’s a healthier alternative feed ingredient for livestock compared to maize, with improved weight gain for the animals although it does need a bit of enrichment with a protein source. This is an important finding for RTB supported work in utilization of cassava peel as animal feed.

Orange-Fleshed Sweetpotato farmers in Rwanda. Photo: S.Quinn/CIP

Orange-Fleshed Sweetpotato farmers in Rwanda. Photo: S.Quinn/CIP

Policy change promotes sweetpotato

Sweetpotato and other roots and tubers are often neglected crops. So it was very encouraging to learn from Jan Low of the International Potato Center (CIP) that because of advocacy and progress in research through the SASHA and SUSTAIN projects implemented by CIP, Rwanda has included in recent policy documents the promotion of biofortified foods, and in three districts (Muhanga, Gakeneke and Rulindo) local governments have included sweetpotato as a priority crop as part of their efforts to fight micronutrient malnutrition and improve the diversification of diets. For sure there are lessons here for other root, tuber and banana crops.

 

Cassava seed system in Uganda

Anthony Pariyo of the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) of Uganda explained there has been good progress made towards developing a sustainable seed system for cassava in Uganda, including a functional public-private partnership with BioCrops providing 12,000 plants from bioculture and a network of 47 seed entrepreneurs selling seed to farmers. There are some potential lessons here for a new RTB project on cassava seed systems which is getting underway in Nigeria.

Pruning buys time for cassava

Cassava roots deteriorate quickly after harvest, posing a significant challenge for farmers and processors. Harriet Muyinza of NARO took part in an exchange visit to the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia sponsored by the RTB-ENDURE project, during which she applied a cassava pruning technique that she learned during the exchange in field trials in Uganda. The results are very promising, showing that with one of the varieties called Tim Tim, pruning reduced post-harvest deterioration to below 20%, compared to 70% without pruning. This suggests that pruning could be effective for farmers to reduce storage loss and have more time to transport their crop to market.

Brown streak disease resistance

Morag Ferguson from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) reported the surprising finding that resistance to cassava brown streak disease, previously thought to have come from East Africa, was actually derived from a West African landrace. This, together with their location of molecular markers associated with the genetic inheritance of resistance should importantly enable preemptive breeding against brown streak disease in West Africa. This could be extremely important given that the disease is spreading west from its origin on the coast of Tanzania and potentially affecting the rest of the continent.

Graham Thiele, RTB Program Director, presents the program's priority assessment plans during the Congress. Photo: G.Smith/CIAT

Graham Thiele, RTB Program Director, summarizes the findings of the program’s priority assessment during the Congress. Photo: G.Smith/CIAT

I also took the opportunity to present two plenary sessions – the first updating the progress in RTB and giving a closer look at our work on improving climate change resilience, and the second summarizing the findings of the RTB priority assessment. This assessment kicked off at the GCP21 in 2013 and so it was very appropriate to present a wrap up in China.

New technologies make cassava processing more efficient and sustainable

As the global cassava industry continues to grow, new processing technologies are helping factories to reduce energy losses.

The farming and post-harvest processing of cassava is a major economic activity throughout much of South-East Asia, Africa and Latin America.

In Africa and Latin America, cassava is a staple food for 500 million people and is increasingly processed into ready-to-cook or ready-to-eat products. Demand for these foods is rising as a result of changing expectations by growing middle-class consumers and urban populations.

In South-East Asia cassava processing for starch in particular is a major market driver, with Thailand being the world’s largest exporter of cassava products, including starch and chips.

In many countries, the processing of cassava takes place in small- and medium-scale factories where process inefficiencies, in particular energy losses, are significant and impact on both production costs and the environment.

Considering the high potential for growth of the cassava industry, driven by growing populations and economic development, it is critical to optimize cassava processing technologies to ensure the industry progresses in a sustainable manner.

Cassava processing for starch in Vietnam. Photo by G. Smith/CIAT

Cassava processing for starch in Vietnam. Photo: G. Smith/CIAT

To improve cassava processing technologies, the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) conducted a benchmarking study of cassava starch and flour technologies in several countries, as part of the larger 2013-2015 project “Driving livelihood improvements through demand-oriented interventions for competitive production and processing of roots, tubers and bananas”.

The study was conducted by a team from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture and CIRAD with support from Univalle and Clayuca in Colombia, Kasetsart University and KMUTT in Thailand, and Thai Nguyen University in Vietnam.

Findings confirmed that artificial drying of cassava is faster than sun drying and hence a key factor to increase the production capacity of factories. However, research shows that artificial drying represents 70-75% of the total energy used by a typical cassava starch factory, making it a key area to focus on improving energy efficiencies.

‘Flash drying’, the most suitable type of drying for cassava starch and flours, is efficient at large-scales, with 80-90% energy efficiency. However, at small-scales (less than 50 tons of product per day) where the majority of cassava processing occurs, energy efficiency is only 40-60% due to inadequate dryer designs.

Sun drying, as seen here in Vietnam, is less commonly used in favor of artificial 'flash drying'. Photo N.Palmer/CIAT

Sun drying, as seen here in Vietnam, is less commonly used in favor of artificial ‘flash drying’. Photo: N.Palmer/CIAT

To develop improved drying technologies to make the process more efficient and environmentally sustainable, the project launched a subsequent study using computer-based simulations of the flash drying operation that proved such improvements to small-scale dryers are possible.

A numerical model of flash drying to simulate and compare the drying process at small and large scales was developed, followed by methods to determine the optimum dimensions and operating conditions of flash dryers for different production capacities.

Critically, this led to the development of guidelines to design energy-efficient flash dryers that can help cassava factories or equipment manufacturers reduce their energy losses.

These innovations are now available to interested stakeholders in the cassava processing industry worldwide.

To share findings from the project with key stakeholders from the private and public sector, including cassava processing factories, equipment manufacturers, universities and government agencies, a workshop was held in Bangkok, Thailand from 2 – 4 December, 2015.

The workshop brought together participants from countries including Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, Philippines, Colombia, Nigeria, Tanzania, France and Germany, providing a valuable opportunity for networking and planning future collaborations on the development of the cassava industry.

Processed snack foods made using cassava starch. Photo: G.Smith/CIAT

Processed snack foods made using cassava starch. Photo: G.Smith/CIAT

The event was organized by CIRAD, Kasetsart University and Biotec, with financial support from RTB, SEA-EU-NET and the Embassy of France in Thailand.

The dissemination of the project’s findings will continue through capacity building events in other regions (Latin America, Africa) and the design and construction of a prototype flash dryer based on the newly developed guidelines for energy efficiency.

Read more

Learn more about the outcomes of the workshop and the project in the workshop report.

Access the project’s research findings and numerical models in the recently published (July 2016) paper, ‘Pneumatic Drying of Cassava Starch: Numerical Analysis and Guidelines for the Design of Efficient Small-Scale Dryers‘, published in the journal, Drying Technology: An International Journal.

SciDev – Africa’s top science stories from first half of 2015

As 2015 comes to an end, we highlight science articles published by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English regional edition that were most popular with our audiences by the end of June.

Many top stories had agricultural ‘flavor’, which attests to the huge impact of agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa, but other stories that many readers viewed included those relating to environment, information and communication technology, research and development, education and funding…

A story on roots, tubers and bananas indicated that a three-year project in Uganda aimed at adding value to the crops had begun. A postharvest specialist at the International Potato Center in Uganda, who is the leader of the project, says use of postharvest and processing technologies could help prevent losses of bananas, roots and tubers, and improve food security on the continent. Another expert indicated that cassava roots have a very short marketing period of 48 hours, thus leading to economic losses of up to 90 per cent of the initial value if smallholders lack storage technologies.

Read the full article at SciDev.Net

A year in review: Highlights from the RTB Annual Meeting 2015

The Annual Review and Planning Meeting of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) took place last week from 8 – 10 December, 2015 in Lima, Peru.

The event was hosted by the program’s lead center, the International Potato Center (CIP), and brought together over 50 researchers from the five program partner centers – the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Bioversity International, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, CIRAD and CIP – along with colleagues from other partners including Florida State University and Wageningen University. A representative from a key RTB donor, USAID, also attended the event to share in this year’s highlights.

23573958681_4474c2e3e5_o_CROPOver three days, participants reported on highlights and key achievements from the program’s six research themes, which led to enthusiastic and constructive discussion about the results and next steps for the program in 2016. The collegial and dynamic atmosphere set a positive tone for the year ahead as RTB prepares to undergo a significant shift away from research ‘themes’ to ‘flagship projects’ in 2016.

Selected highlights from the Annual Meeting:

Theme 1 – Unlocking the value and use potential of genetic resources

  • Through complementary funding, RTB has enabled the application of next generation sequencing to change our understanding of genetic diversity, genetic resource collections and breeding populations of root, tuber and banana crops.
  • In several crops, including potato and cassava, we are gaining an understanding of the identity of crop varieties, the status of duplication and misidentifications. This is enabling a much higher level of quality control of information on germplasm and breeding populations to assist with more efficient use of RTB resources.

Theme 2 – Accelerating the development and selection of varieties with higher, more stable yield and added value

  • Metabolomics has been successfully applied to banana, potato, and yam to identify differences between genotypes and treatments.
  • DNA sequencing could separate genepools in cassava based on origin. Sequencing data has proven useful to improve the cassava genome. Further gene characterization raises the question of perhaps using genome editing to reduce cyanide levels in cassava.
  • Genome-Wide Association Studies have applied in banana for the first time, and have identified candidate genes for seedlessness.
  • A ‘Trait Observation Network’ to close potato yield gaps in Africa and Asia started this year and involves extensive G x E phenotyping for drought, late blight, virus resistance, and maturity of already genotyped breeding panels.
  • Shovelomics and other root phenotyping methods to analyze root architecture in relation to drought stress shows potential for screening genotypes at early development stages, as root weight and root dry matter weight is correlated with sweetpotato storage root yields.

Theme 3 – Managing priority pests and diseases

  • Results of work on degenerative diseases show that positive selection, which involves visually identifying and selecting only symptomless plants as the seed source for the next generation, can be as effective as the use of clean seed where selection can be done accurately.
  • Pest Risk Analysis along an altitude gradient was used as a proxy for climate change, and revealed that some diseases have higher incidence at lower altitude, and some have higher incidence at lower levels. Hence, climate change is expected to have some positive and negative effects.
  • Crop land connectivity was used to assess risk for invasion and saturation by pathogens and pests, and showed that the Great Lakes region in East Africa has the highest threat for RTB crops combined.
  • An interdisciplinary Banana Bunchy Top Disease Alliance was set up, and practicable models, tools and procedures for containment and recovery were developed.
  • Single Diseased Stem Removal has been found to be a very effective and farmer-friendly method for controlling Banana Xanthomonas Wilt.
  • A successful Private-Public Partnership has been set up to reduce pesticide use to control Potato Tube Moth through the development of a pheromone-based control strategy that attracts and kills the pest.

Theme 4 – Making available low-cost, high quality planting material for farmers

  • A conceptual framework was developed to analyze RTB seed systems, extract lessons and generate recommendations for improving the design and implementation of future interventions.
  • Quality Declared Quality Planting Materials as an alternative to formal certification is a lower cost and more feasible opportunity for seed system with RTB crops where seed is typically bulky and/or perishable.
  • A key message of the research in this theme was that understanding gender roles in seed systems is critical for positive impact.
  • How can positive selection of seed become adopted as more routine practice in improved seed system?
  • A framework for understanding availability, access and use of quality seed  has been developed and specific research questions have been proposed around this linked to a series of case studies.

 At the end of the first day, CIP hosted an Open House afternoon, showcasing the center’s work in areas including a demonstration of remote sensing of a potato field using a drone and in-house software to collect and analyze the data, and an introduction to the Genebank’s collection of in vitro germplasm of potato, sweetpotato and Andean roots and tubers.

Day two of the meeting covered the highlights from Themes 5 and 6:

 Theme 5 – Developing tools for more productive, ecologically robust cropping systems

  • Developing ability to provide targeted recommendations about the next steps for cropping systems improvement, as a function of a farm’s current status (technology limited, resources limited, decision limited).
  • Providing recommendations that can be used by farmers immediately for more robust and profitable cropping systems.
  • Support for farmer soil management through careful analysis of nutrient balances shows promise for smallholder banana production.

Theme 6 – Promoting post-harvest technologies, value chains, and market opportunities

  • Sensory tasting for cassava should be product specific. For example, Gari can be eaten dry, as a paste, in porridge etc. When you want to evaluate the acceptability of Gari you have to decide on one of the products.
  • Much work has gone in to improving drying technologies and there is evidence that some technologies are preferred more than others, such as Cabinet driers in Tanzania.
  • Interlinkages with other projects are building on work that has already been done, e.g. RTB-ENDURE project is testing improved clones in development of value chains in Uganda.
  • Climate change effects: research has shown that the production of bitter alkaloids in the potato tuber increases with temperature making them unacceptable, this has strong implications for  climate change in potato

The meeting concluded with a smaller two-day workshop on 11-12 December to refine the program’s shift away from research ‘themes’ to a new structure based on five ‘flagship projects’ in 2016. More detail about RTB’s new flagship projects will be coming soon.