Most farms in Ilero in Kajola Local Government Area of Oyo State are full of cassava. The crop is grown widely because there is a market for it. But cassava peel have become a stream of income opportunity.
Tunde Rasaki (not real name) is a secondary school pupil from a poor family.
To raise N3000 for his school fees, he joined other youngsters people to peel cassava for farmers. For 50 kg of cassava peels, he is paid N100. He is also given the waste peels which he sells to goat and pig farmers. He makes money from it. In Nigeria, nearly three million households (mostly women) produce 50 million tonnes of cassava yearly. Most of the crop is used for human consumption, but about 14 million tonnes of its by-products, including peels and under-sized tubers, are thrown away. There is a thriving cassava industry that produce enormous peel waste.
Ilero is home to national cassava production enterprise.
Driven by local men and women, the growth of the local cassava industry has seen a significant drop in seasonal unemployment in a short time.
Consequently, two organisations, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) Ibadan, Nigeria and Niji Group, a cassava processing firm, want to create markets for processed peels across the town. To achieve this, industry partners have participated in multiple feeding trials. The trials created the necessary confidence in the industry on the nutritive quality of the products and created a huge demand for the product.
Already, ILRI has developed a technology to process fresh cassava peels into high quality cassava peel products with better shelf life and nutrient profiles acceptable to the feed industry. The institute has moved into the area through a partnership with Niji Group, that could see new companies setting up home in the area and growing there. If they are to succeed, Niji Group Chief Executive, Mr. Kolawole Adeniji noted, the town must nurture local entrepreneurs and attract new enterprises. With the favourable developments in Ilero, including abundant low-cost and year-round availability of cassava peels, ILRI and Niji Group want to fabricate appropriate and simple technology to process the peels, to livestock feed to meet strong demand from the feed industry due to the high prices of traditional feed ingredients. Entrepreneurs are seizing the opportunity to commercialise the technology.
The first major success of commercialisation has come through the selection of Niji Foods, to set up three cassava peel processing units with financial assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Selection of the technology and the willingness of Niji Foods to fund 50 per cent of the investments testifies to the financial viability of the technology and its relevance to the regional needs. Ilero is one of key towns that would lead the economic growth in its area, if there are infrastructure to speed up the growth and success of start-up and early-stage food companies by providing them with access to valuable services and resources.
Adeniji believes existing technologies of drying and grading cassava peels could hold the key to providing a readily available and sustainable source of animal feeds, increasing incomes for women and boosting food security.
Under an agreement, Niji Foods and ILRI will train up to 750 women and staff involved in cassava peels mash processing and business management providing long term employment and hand over partial ownership to at least three women’s groups.
Through the technology, scientists have successfully reduced the drying of cassava peels from three days to one, and to just six hours in some cases. The resulting dry cake is then loosened, sun dried and divided into various grades for different animals, including large and small ruminants and poultry.
Adeniji said a small industry has emerged from young people and adults making a living from peeling cassava. Though the young entrepreneurs sell the peels, he noted, however, that million tons of peels that are being wasted each year and treated as environmental nuisance.
According to him, the waste will become a tradable livestock feed commodity.
For him and other entrepreneurs, cassava peels have the potential to add around 15 million tonnes of quality feed creating a $2 billion a year industry in Africa.
This will immensely help the livestock sector besides other multiple benefits such as creating employment and incomes for the cassava processors mostly women in the unorganised sector along the value chain and cleaning of the environment.
Adeniyi wants to support entrepreneurs to establish cassava processing facilities to turn the area into a cassava processing hub.
The enclave, he said, would facilitate the sharing of ideas, risks and benefits as well as promote investments in areas such as “transporters specialised in cassava haulage,” fabricators and artisans. He said Niji Foods would serve as an anchor client for producers and processors of cassava and share experiences to promote the growth of the cassava value chain.
According to him, the growth of the cassava value chain would have a huge impact on the local economy with the provision of jobs, investments in infrastructure, skills acquisition and technology transfer in the rural areas.
He added that commercial farmers would also benefit from the enclave as they would be major stakeholders in the supply chain and create substantial employment in view of the labor-intensive nature of the industry.
More than 50 products, including native starch, various modified starches, cassava flour, sweeteners, biodegradable plastics, adhesives and ethanol are derived from processing cassava. To this end, he is at the forefront of turning cassava peels into livestock feeds.
Adeniyi said his plan is to establish village-based mini-industrial processing units across Oyo State to turn villages into active processing and marketing hubs thus transforming livelihoods through employment creation and income generation.
Source: The Nation