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Focus | 13 Apr 2012
Farmers experiences in making garri, starch and Waterfufu

Locally fabricated garri and watafufu press owned by Struggling Women in Bangem
These products are mostly made to the taste of the local community. That is, the kind of cassava by product made in a particular area depends on that particular community. This explains why some communities cultivate cassava for making garri while others prefer ‘myondo’, ‘bobolo’ or starch. Below are some field experiences on how to make garri, watafufu and starch gathered from local farmers who prepare the garri for their local markets and exportation to other markets in the country.

Making garri
Harvest the cassava from the farm, peel, wash then grand the cassava. This is usually done with the help of locally fabricated machines or a hand grater if the farmer has a small quantity of cassava. The peeling, washing and grating should be done immediately the cassava is harvested.
After grinding, mix the grounded watery cassava with palm oil and put it for one day to have the sour taste that make garri what it is. For those who don’t want any oil for health reasons, the grounded cassava is not mixed with oil.
Some of the farmers explain that the supposed white garri is more costly because it is difficult to fry given that there is no oil to lubricate during frying. Thus a lot of it is lost during frying then increasing the price in the market.

What ever kind of garri, the farmers explained, the sour taste which most of them like in cassava will only be there if the grounded cassava is allowed for one day without pressing to remove the water.
According to the garri dealers, you can then fry after three days of pressing, after all the water has been eliminated.
While insisting on hygienic practices in all the processes of producing garri, the farmers said using palm oil is the best because it removes any toxic substance in the cassava and eases frying.
The farmers also insisted that it is advisable to mix the garri with the palm oil before tying. In this case, they said, the garri will look uniform after frying but if you decide to put the oil when you are frying the garri will have different colours.

Making ‘waterfufu’
Unlike garri that is fried and is often a delicacy during school reopening for students, ‘waterfufu’ is one of the cassava by-products consumed in cassava growing areas in the South West, Littoral and North West Regions.
According to some cassava farmers who have taken this as their business, the cassava is removed, peeled and washed like in the case of garri. Instead of peeling, the farmers explained they look for clean basins or other utensils and put the cassava. The farmers say the cassava is now soaked in warm or cold water until it gets soft. According to the farmers the soft cassava is ground and put in a clean bag that is put in a clean area for pressing to remove the water. After pressing and removing the water, the semi wet whitish cassava is sieved to remove strong particles. It can now be sold in small containers in the markets.

Making starch
As soon as the cassava is harvested, do not allow it to stay. This will avoid the cassava getting black. The cassava is then peeled, washed, ground and sieved immediately. Some farmers use locally made sieves that they designed. Some farmers use cloths to sieve the cassava but some complain that this cloth makes the work more tedious. They say cloth makes the work too laborious and time consuming. So they prefer to design their own local sieves for local carpenters to make what they want.
After using the sieve, you can now use the cloth so that the starch will be very smooth. The starch is now dried in a clean surface in the sun or in an oven and then ground again so that it becomes pure powder.

Cassava processing equipment
Improved garri frying pan owned by Ambitous Women, Kake II
Traditional cassava processing does not require sophisticated equipment.

Processing cassava into garri requires equipment such as grater, presser and fryer. The traditional cassava grater is made of flattened kerosene tin or iron sheet perforated with nails and fastened onto a wooden board with handles. Grating is done by rubbing the peeled roots against the rough perforated surface of the iron sheet which tears off the peeled cassava root flesh into mash.
In recent years, various attempts have been made to improve graters. Graters which are belt-driven from a static 5 HP Lister type engine have been developed and are being extensively used in Cameroon and Nigeria. Its capacity to grate cassava is about one ton of fresh peeled roots per hour.

For draining excess liquid from the grated pulp the sacks containing the grated pulpy mass are slowly pressed down using a 30-ton hydraulic jack press with wooden platforms, before sieving and roasting into garri. Stones are used in traditional processing to press out the excess moisture from the grated pulp. Tied wooden frames are used for this purpose in places where stones are not available. Pans made from iron or earthen pots are used for roasting the fermented pulp. Fuel wood is the source of energy for boiling, roasting, steaming and frying. Fuel wood may not be easily and cheaply obtained in the future because of rapid deforestation in many countries.

Slight changes in the equipment used in processing can help to save fuel and lessen the discomfort, health hazard, and drudgery for the operating women. The economic success of any future commercial development of cassava processing would depend upon the adaptability of each processing stage to mechanization.
According to an FAO report on how to improve on cassava processing the first step to improving cassava technologies should be to improve or modify the simple processing equipment or systems presently used, rather than to change entirely to new sophisticated, and expensive equipment. This will enable the local farmers to cope easily.

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