Nigeria, the world’s largest producer of cassava, harvests 54 million metric tonnes (Mt) of cassava tubers annually. More than 95% of cassava used in Nigeria requires peeling, which generates up to 14 million MT of peels annually. Most of it is wasted due especially to challenges related to drying. With traditional techniques, sun drying is practically impossible during the wet season, and takes three days in the dry season to reduce moisture content of fresh peels from about 70% to 20% or less, to achieve a marketable state.

RTB has funded cross-continental, multi-centre and multi-disciplinary research work to improve cassava-processing systems, developing models to downscale and transfer the efficiencies of large starch driers to small scale, especially for Africa.

In West Africa, RTB collaborated with the CRPs Livestock and Fish (led by the International Livestock Research Institute, ILRI) and Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics (led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA) to develop innovative processing and drying of cassava peels for animal feed, potentially removing up to 14 million t of peels from the waste stream in Nigeria alone, and adding value to the feed value chain.

Ongoing work is showing great potential and has so far dramatically reduced cassava peels moisture content to 12–15% within six sunshine hours using only equipment in current use by small-scale processors and households. The considerably shorter processing time and use of freshly peeled/discarded materials is resulting in high quality cassava peels products (pellets and mash) that are appealing to the livestock and fish feed milling industry as a versatile and new energy source, low in aflatoxin contamination.

Gari processors expressed willingness to take up the processing at their location with the group’s own resources and requested technical assistance in processing and marketing the processed peels. Once the industry is assured of a regular supply of quality product through the cassava processors, partnering the cassava producers with the feed industry, would be a mutually beneficial relationship and ILRI will play a major role in catalyzing this partnership.

The research carries huge potential to address feed scarcity, contribute to food security and food safety, clean up the environment, and improve the incomes and livelihoods of people currently engaged in processing cassava tuber into food – 85 % of them women.

Learn more about RTBs contribution to improve the use of cassava waste in Nigeria in the following great videos produced for the Channels TV Earthfile program: