Cassava Peels: From Want-Not to Waste-Not
This post is written by Iheanacho Okike, CGIAR.
Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world, harvesting 57 million tons in 2016. While cassava helps to alleviate hunger in Nigeria, processing fresh roots into food creates 15 million tons of peel annually, causing environmental and health problems. In 2015, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), launched the Cassava Peel Project to reduce this mountain of peel waste.
The project found a way to convert wet cassava peel into energy-rich, high-quality animal feed. First, the fresh peel is grated three times or wet-milled by hammer mill, to reduce the particle size, start cyanide detoxification and make it easier to dry. The grated, milled peel is packed into sacks that are placed in a hydraulic press that removes more than half of the water content. The sacks are left overnight to ferment and make the product safer from cyanide. The resultant wet cake, which stores for up to a week, can be fed directly to cattle, sheep, goats and pigs. The wet cake can also be grated again to break it up and the particles sieved into fine and coarse fractions. These fractions are dried in the sun or over heat to produce high-quality cassava peel (HQCP) mashes. The HQCP fine and coarse fractions make up to two-thirds and one-third of the final animal feed products and have a shelf-life of up to six months.
Initial testing showed that the fine mash effectively replaced 10% of maize in poultry and fish feed, while the coarse mash could be included in cattle, sheep, goat and pig rations without affecting growth performance. There would be a theoretical poultry and fish feed industry demand of nearly a million tons of fine mash and much higher demand for coarse mash for ruminants and pigs. 15 million tons of peel waste can be converted into 3.3 million tons of fine mash and 1.7 tons of coarse mash. Feed millers valued HQCP fine mash at $150 per ton, HQCP coarse mash at $100 per ton and unseparated whole mash at $133 per ton. To support the scaling of HQCP, the project was awarded a grant from the RTB Scaling Fund for 2018 and 2019. The scaling fund helped identify bottlenecks and corresponding solutions to scale the technology. There was a need for additional public and private sector partners, such as the Bank of Industry (BoI) to extend credit to entrepreneurs adopting the technology; Single Spark, makers of FeedCalculator to enable feed millers and farmers to formulate the least cost-balanced rations incorporating HQCP; and IITA to develop a Cassava Peel Tracker to allow entrepreneurs to locate the nearest cassava processing centers, along with the amount of peel for sale each day.
In 2019, 26,000 tons of HQCP fine mash were integrated into the poultry and fish feed industry. In 2018 and 2019, HQCP mashes were incorporated into 2,007 rations for broilers, catfish, layer hens, pigs and tilapia using FeedCalculator. Feed millers in Nigeria mentioned that they found HQCP to be cheaper than other sources of energy, profitable to farmers through reduced feed cost and a good, nutritious source of animal fodder. In addition to the 200 women and men trained directly by the Scaling Fund Project, the nongovernmental organization Synergos funded the training of a set of master trainers and equipped 10 of their clusters of women’s groups with graters, presses, toasting pans and other equipment. The women were trained to produce HQCP and supply the livestock processing unit at Oracle Farms in Makurdi, the capital of Benue State. Two thousand women benefitted directly or indirectly from this innovation.
Women’s groups were also supported and trained in Kogi and Ogun States. In Kogi State, a study by the African Agricultural Transformation Initiative (TAAT) found that together the women’s groups produced and sold an average of six tons of HQCP whole mash daily, amounting to an annual revenue of $240,000 to participating women’s groups. Currently, over 500 women in Nigeria work in the HQCP value chain and more are projected to benefit as demand increases nationally for HQCP in animal and fish feed production. This increase in demand is more so among feed millers and poultry and fish farmers. According to Raf Abanum, CEO of Premier Fish Feeds Ltd., "HQCP fine mash is cheaper than maize. The mash floats, so when we make fish feed, we don’t need to spend money adding lighter ingredients, the way we do for maize. So, the feed comes out cheaper. I am happy and so are my clients."
Dr. Bhushan Advani, chief executive officer of Nine Stars Integrated Services, Ltd. concurs, saying "Nine Stars has been using a lot of HQCP mash since 2018. The video on YouTube showing the transformation of cassava peels into animal feed ingredients fascinated our management and got us to incorporate HQCP into our in-house fish feed. With its lower cost, better binding to maize starch, local availability and the performance of our tilapia and catfish, we have ventured into [the] commercial feed market and launched Betta Feed for commercial fish farmers nationwide. We now package and market our brand of HQCP fine mash to other feed millers."
A new industry based on cassava peel waste is taking shape. It has the potential to reduce the amount of maize used in animal feeds, freeing up valuable grain to feed the Nigerian people. The new feed is generating income and employment, especially for women. The unsightly, stinking mounds of cassava peel are being turned into a product that villagers can sell. The returns on investment for research and business are attractive, calling for further and more substantial investments to support and grow this innovation, not only in Nigeria but scaling to other countries where cassava is an important crop.
For additional information on turning cassava peels into valuable products, please contact Iheanacho Okike, at i.okike@CGIAR.org