Focus | 13 Apr 2012
Potentials of cassava as animal feed
These cassava tubers can be transformed to animal feed
Cassava has long been recognized by researchers in Africa as an appropriate animal feed and it has been used as an important and cheap feed in many European countries. Both roots and leaves are usable as food to livestock. Cassava is one of the most drought tolerant crops and can be successfully grown on marginal soils, giving reasonable yields where many other crops cannot do well. It is estimated that approximately 4 million tones of cassava peeling-useful as livestock feed-are annually produced as a by-product in Nigeria alone during processing of cassava roots. Therefore, cassava offers tremendous potentials as a cheap source of food energy for animals, provided it is well balanced with other nutrients. There is a great deal of current interest in supplementing feeding of animals with cassava in Africa.
But the future of cassava, researchers say, depends very much upon development of improved processing technologies and of improved products that can meet the changing needs of urban people, and, on its suitability for alternative uses such as animal feeds.
“We produce at least 50 twenty litre buckets of garri a week”
Stella Achu, Garri producer, Mbengwi
Why have you specialised in garri and water fufu ?
Garri is a cultural food of our people. They have been producing cassava long before I was born and we thought that processing it to garri with improved quality will be a first objective. Water fufu only came in later. Some of our members think water fufu is easier to produce than garri.
Who are your customers ?
Our customers are retailers from Buea and Douala who come and buy in bulk and retail in different markets in those towns. These retailers must sell at least 20 buckets a week. They either send me money or just make a call. I package and send through a transport agency for them to pick up.
How much garri do you produce ?
We produce at least 50 twenty litre buckets of garri a week because our processing mill is incomplete making processing a bit difficult. There are some steps in the processing chain that are really exhausting. We have a lot of cassava that is spoiling in the farm because of lack of machines or human labour. When you do not have human labour it is very difficult. The different processing steps are exhausting. Peeling is the most labour intensive activity. So when you cannot peel the same time you harvest, it has an impact on the quality and quantity of the final product.
What would be your potential, everything being equal ?
Our potential will be five tons a week given that we have thirty ha pending.
“We” represents who?
I work with eighteen farming groups with a population of at least 284 women. “We” represents all of us.
How profitable is the activity to group members ?
The fact that you produce knowing that there is a market for your produce is the first profitable part of the activity. Secondly, the price is very good. The further the market the higher the price and the better for the producer. The nearer the market, the lower the price reason being that a 20l bucket of garri sells at 4000 CFA francs(6000-9000 now) in Muea market in Buea. If we sell at 3000 Cfa francs, there is still a lot of gain for the farmers of the cooperative. There is a cost involved in selling and when you buy, you give them the opportunity to meet the average cost and be able to make a profit at that level. Then there are other expenses involved in selling which is transportation at every level, the cost of handling, which put up the price.
How much do you sell a bucket at your level ?
We sell at the level of the mill at 3000 and in Douala it is between 4000 and 5000 CFA francs.
Do you go to sell in those cities on your own without passing through retailers ?
No. selling is tedious and so it is impossible for us to leave Mbengwi to go and sell in those cities.
How did you get your customers ?
I did a survey to be able to see those who consume garri and at what quantities. During the survey, I identified many and when I talked to them, a few listened to me and followed me. You have to go looking for the customers or you will not be able to sell. When we met them, we agreed on the price. After calculations, we saw that we had nothing to lose in that we clear the stock in the farm easily. It is very painful when you see it rot in the farm but when you are able to sell at a price which is convenient for you and fast, you think that it is worth the trouble.
Cassava leaves as vegetable
Cassava shoots of 30 cm length are harvested from the plants.
The hard petioles are removed and the blades and young petioles are pounded with a pestle in a mortar. A variation of this process involves blanching the leaves before pounding. The resulting pulp is then boded for about 30-60 minutes. In some countries, the first boiled water is decanted and replaced. Pepper, palm-oil and other aromatic ingredients are added. The mixture is then boiled for 30 minutes.
Unlike the roots that are essentially carbohydrate, cassava leaves are a good source of protein and vitamins which can provide a valuable supplement to predominantly starchy diets. Cassava leaves are rich in protein, calcium, iron and vitamins, comparing favorably with other green vegetables generally regarded as good protein sources. The amino acid composition of cassava leaves shows that, except for methionine, the essential amino acid values in cassava are higher than estimated by many, researchers say.
The total essential amino acid content for cassava leaf protein is similar to that found in hen’s egg and is greater than that in oat and rice grain, soybean seed, and spinach leaf, the researchers say. While the vitamin content of the leaves is high, the processing techniques for preparing the leaves for consumption can lead to huge losses. For example, the prolonged boiling involved in making soups or stews, results in considerable loss of vitamin C.
Cassava leaves form a significant part of the diets in many countries. They are used as one of the preferred vegetables in most cassava growing countries. They are mostly served as a sauce which is eaten with chickwangue, fufu, and boiled cassava.
Modes of consumption
Cassava root based foods are all consumed with soups or stews. The soup is essential in the food system in Cameroon without which most foods cannot be eaten. Soup made of cassava leaves is often eaten with cassava root based foods. Therefore, the cassava root based foods which are essentially carbohydrate are supplemented for protein when consumed with protein rich soups or stews.