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Focus | 13 Apr 2012
Processing and exporting cassava for better income margins

Garri in Yoke Market Muyuka, buyers come here to get garri and other related products
Processing cassava could fetch a lot of income to local producers. Some of the locally processed cassava products widely consumed locally are garri, starch, watafufu or kumkum. In some communities these products have become inseparable to local community. This is because cassava grows even in the poorest soils. For this reason many people have described cassava as a remedy for hunger .
Realizing the importance of cassava, IRAD and other research institutions come up, through research with improved species that produce faster and even more. Some farmers now make a living from cassava as they produce and transform into garri, starch and waterfufu for the local market. Although the farmers are faced with lots of processing and marketing problems, cassava could be a huge income fetcher for producers if the production-processing-marketing chain is revised and improved upon. This is because the cassava tuber itself deteriorates a few hours after harvesting. This makes live very difficult for the producers. To avoid losses most cassava farmers are dealers in garri, waterfufu and other cassava transformed products. In this issue we have sought information that will help you improve on your processing and marketing of cassava.

“We sell a glass of starch for 300 francs and a kg for 1600 francs”,
Pauline Eloh Tanyi, President of Charity Women Kumba Town
How much starch do you produce ?
We produce about 200kg of starch in a month but we have the capacity to produce up to 2000kg as demand increases. To produce we harvest cassava from our farm and also buy from the market.
Who are the consumers of this starch ?
We have dry cleaners, individuals who stiffen their dresses and we are also looking for markets out of the country especially those who process material.
Do you know that some companies use starch from cassava as an ingredient in food ?
We don’t know. It’s today that we are learning of it. Our group will be happy to be one of their suppliers because we have everything it takes to process cassava.

How much do you sell a kg of starch ?
We sell a glass of starch for 300 francs and a kg for 1600 francs. We package them in liters, 25kg and 50 kg packages. People mostly come to our shop and buy. Sometimes we send it to Buea, Douala and other towns in the country.
How do you package to keep the starch for long ?
We package the starch in plastics, 1.5 liter plastic containers and 50 kg bags. Usually we double the bags, that is, we put the starch inside nylon plastic bags before putting it in the bag to prevent it from getting bad.
What is the cost of a liter of this starch ?
We sell a liter for 1000 francs.

What motivated you to start transforming cassava into starch ?
This idea came to me when I was in school. During our practical lessons I prepared starch and could not give out everything during our graduation. When a friend begged for starch, I gave her the one I had kept for long; she used it and later told me that the starch was very good. So the idea came to me that one can use it for income generating because it lasts for long and cassava is readily available. I started processing it in little quantities and now I can process any quantity thanks to this machine.

How long can starch last ?
It can stay above one year so long as it is well packaged and sealed.
Which cassava do you use for starch ?
For starch you need cassava that has not got too much water. When you grate it, you see that it is white. This is usually the white species of cassava rather than the read cassava.
Will you be able to sell starch and repay a loan of 10 million francs ?
Yes, with 10 million that will be paid over a longer period of time, we will work more cassava and transform. We will be able to penetrate more markets than we do now. By BDS

Products obtained from processing cassava tubers
Garri or tapioca
Cassava fresh roots are peeled and grated.
The grated pulp is put in sacks (Jute or polypropylene) and the sacks are placed under heavy stones or pressed with a hydraulic lack between wooden platforms for 3-4 days to remove excess liquid from the pulp while it is fermenting. Fermentation imparts an acidic taste to the final product. The dewatered and fermented lumps of pulp are crumbled by hand and most of the fibrous matter is removed. The remaining mass is sieved with traditional sieves (made of woven splinters of cane) or iron or polyethylene mesh. After being sieved, the fine pulp is then roasted in an iron pan or earthen pot over a fire. If the sieved pulp is too wet, it takes longer to roast resulting in a finished lumpy product with dull colour. Palm oil may be added to prevent the pulp from burning during roasting and to give a light yellow colour to the garri. When palm oil is not added, a white garri is produced.

Palm oil contains substantial quantities of vitamin A; therefore, yellow garri is 10-30 percent more nutritious and expensive than white garri. The garification or conversion rate of fresh roots into gari is 15-20 %. This value varies with cassava varieties, time of harvesting, age of plant and other environmental factors. Gari is very popular in Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
Peeling is done mainly by women and children. The peeled roots are grated most of the time in the South West of Cameroon by locally fabricated machines. Simple traditional graters are also used in family set ups by men if a power driven grater is used. Pressing is done by women in the traditional way but done by men when a hydraulic presser is used. The sieved fermented pulp is roasted almost exclusively by women in a pan or pot on the fire with fuel wood as the energy source.

“Chickwangue” is the most popular processed food from cassava. “Myondo” and “Bobolo” in Cameroon belong to this “Chickwangue” group. Cassava roots are peeled steeped in water for 3-5 days to ferment and become soft. The fermented pulp is taken out and the flares are removed from it. The pulp is then heaped on racks for further fermentation or the heap is covered with leaves and pressed with heavy objects to drain off excess liquid. The pulp is then ground on a stone or pounded in a mortar to obtain a finer pulp. The fine pulp is wrapped in leaves of plantain or any plant of the Zingiberaceae family and tied firmly with fibres from banana. These are steamed in pots. Chickwangue is about 10 cm wide and 20 cm long. Myondo has a diameter of 1.5-2.0 cm and a length of 15 cm to 20 cm. Bobolo has a diameter of 2-4 cm and a length of 30-40 cm.

Dried cassava
The roots are peeled, sliced into small pieces and sun-dried on racks or roofs for 4-5 days or sometimes up to 3 weeks, depending on the weather and the size of pieces. Later, sun-dried pieces are milled into flour. This processing system is very simple but the processed products contain considerable amounts of cyanide. This method is widely used in many areas in Africa, particularly where water supply for fermentation is seriously limited.

Cassava roots are peeled, washed and grated. The grated pulp is steeped for 2-3 days in a large quantity of water, stirred and filtered through a piece of cloth. The filtrate stands overnight and the supernatant is then decanted. The starch sediments are air-dried under shade.

Fermented and dried cassava into ‘kumkum’
The processing method by fermenting and drying cassava pulp is very simple and does not require much labor. It is thus widely used for processing high cyanide cassava varieties in many parts of Africa where water for soaking is available. Peeled roots are immersed in water for 3-4 days for fermentation and softening the tissues. The fermenting roots are then removed and broken into small crumbs, sun-dried on mats, racks, cement floors or roofs of houses. Drying the fermented roots takes 1-3 days, depending on the prevailing weather. The dried crumbs are then milled into flour.

Smoked cassava balls (“kumkum”)
Cassava is processed into smoked cassava balls in the same way as fermented and dried pulp is produced except that the fermented wet pulp is pounded and molded into round balls of about 4-7 cm diameter. These balls are then smoked and dried on a platform above the fire place in a special structure hung above the hearth. The dark coating caused by smoke is cleaned off and the cleaned balls are milled into flour before reconstitution into fufu.

Wet pulp or ‘waterfufu’
The processing procedures for “wet pulp” and of fermented and dried pulp production are similar except for the drying. The wet pulp may be molded into balls, 3-5 cm diameter, put in boiling water and stirred thoroughly to obtain a stiff Wet pulp of about 0.5-1.0 kg is packed in a plastic or polypropylene bag and marketed in cities in Cameroon, Nigeria and Ghana. Urban dwellers therefore do not need to buy fresh roots for processing into wet pulp to prepare wet fufu. Source, www.fao.org

“We can produce up to 300 bags of garri as a group”,
Azoh Esther Mbanwei, Assistant Secretary Ambitious Women, Kake II

How much cassava do you have this year to make garri ?
We have three hectares of cassava.
What do you do with the cassava after harvesting ?
We harvest the cassava; peel ourselves, wash and grind. We then ferment for two days before frying it. For white garri we don’t put palm oil but for read garri we put palm oil.

To whom do you sell the garri ?
We sell in the market to ‘buyam-sellams’ that come here. When garri is scarce we sell for more than 15000 francs a bag but when it is cheap we sell for 10000 francs.
How much garri can you produce in a year ?
We have the capacity to produce even more than 5000 tons of garri but there are many problems that block us. This year we can produce up to 300 bags of garri as a group. We join together, work, harvest and then fry the garri.

What other food items do you produce from cassava ?
We make bobolo, starch, watafufu and many other things.
How do you keep the garri so that it doesn’t get bad ?
Garri can stay for a month if well fried, that is when you fry the garri to get dry well it can be up to one year. We preserve well dried garri in nylon papers before putting in fertilizer bags. The only problem is that of extending the cassava farms and transporting the crop from the farms to the house because we don’t have roads. So if somebody can assist us with loans or grants so that we can buy good trucks here we will do more.

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