Basics of How to start a cassava production or processing business


Cassava food products are the most important staples of rural and urban households in Nigeria. Current estimates shows that the dietary calorie equivalent of per capital consumption of cassava in the country amounts to be about 238kcal.
This is derived from the consumption of garri (toasted granules), chips / flour fermented pastes and / or fresh roots, the principal of cassava food forms.

Processing of agricultural products in Nigeria is as old as farming itself. In Nigeria, traditional foods processed at homes or in small scale cottage operations constitute the principal mode of utilization of cassava. Commercial livestock producers are fast adopting the use of cassava processed by­- products in livestock feeds which appreciates the great potential in feed formulations. Cassava is also useful in several others industries, such as baking and brewing but the domestic consumption of cassava product, has resulted in a limited availability of cassava products for industrial use.
Women are the most responsible for processing agricultural commodities and marketing of cassava produce. They assist their husbands in marketing by buying the cassava produce from their husbands and market it at a profit. At times, they buy cassava in the soil, harvest, process and market it.
Small scale cassava processing is the demand of women although most of the mechanized equipments (graters and grinders) are owned and operated by men. It is necessary to ensure that the shift from manual to mechanical processing does not put them in a disadvantaged position.

  • Changes in food market developments
There is a strong demand for cheap food, especially cassava products within Nigeria. Since 1980s, real producers price have increased as a consequence of devaluation of the Naira abolition of the commodity boards and import restrictions on selected food stuffs and animal feed. As a result, consumers have shifted from expensive foods such as meat, eggs, bread and rice towards locally produced staples such as cassava, yam, sorghum 
  • Marketing of Cassava
The marketing system for Cassava is characterized by fluctuations in supply. The laws of demand and supply determine produce price. To forestall early deterioration and also due to its bulky nature, cassava is traded in some processed form generally garri or cheap / flour.
  • Fresh cassava root.
In some part of the north, raw roots of sweet types of cassava are eaten as snacks (rogo), otherwise most harvested roots are processed. Marketing of these fresh cassava roots is directly related to a number of factors, due to their bulkiness, weight and high perishability fresh cassava roots cannot be transported over a long distance.
  • Dry Cassava Chips
Traditionally cassava chips are the intermediate products in one of the pathways of flour production. Currently cassava chips are being industrially converted to alcohol in one of Nigerian foremost alcohol manufacturing companies - The Nigeria yeast companions manufacturing company (NIYAMCO) consuming 24 tonnes of cassava chips daily.
  • Cassava Flour
The use of cassava flour as a raw material for the bakery, biscuit and pastery industries.
  • Cassava Starch
Cassava starch is produced by soaking peeled cassava in water to separate the starch from the fibre and this is used to produce what we know as industrial starch commonly used in laundry business.
Food you can make from cassava products: Fufu, Garri, Abacha, Bread e.t.c

There are two methods of making cassava flour from cassava tuber, which is a root crop.
·        Processing cassava tuber crop to making cassava flour mechanically.
·        Processing cassava tuber crop to making cassava flour locally. (we will only be discussing about the local method due to our targeted audience because it is the only cheap method for a start-up farmer )
High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) is made by cooking, drying and grinding cassava root to a fine powder. It is differ from Tapioca in that Tapioca flour is made from the starch of the cassava plant where the cassava flour is the ground nut.
Cassava flour is used as substitutes for wheat flour in bakery and confectionary produces.
The demand for High Quality cassava flour in Nigeria is high. The driving force behind the demand is the Federal Government policy on cassava in flour inclusion in wheat flour for cassava wheat composite flour production especially for bread and confectionary baking.
The annual National demand for high Quality Cassava Flour (HACF) is estimated at 750,000 tonnes while the National supply estimated is about 50,00 tonnes.
High Quality Cassava Flour is also used in the paper board and plywood industries.
The major machinery and equipment for production of cassava are
  • Granulater
  • Flash fryer
  • Hydraulic press
  • Detoxifier
  • Vibro sieve
  • Hammer mill grater
  • Hammer mill with cycline
  • Packaging machine
  • Weighing machine
Steps of processing cassava flour locally:
·         Purchase or harvest of cassava tuber crop: Cassava tuber for processing cassava flour can be purchased from cassava farmers or from your cultivated farmland after 6 -12 months of planting.
·         Peeling of cassava tuber crop and cutting of woody parts: Immediately after the cassava to use for the processing has been purchased it is necessary for them to be peeled. The process of peeling cassava is mostly done with the aid of knife locally.
·         Thorough washing: After the process of peeling has been carried out with the ridding of wood and unwanted parts from the cassava the next step is to wash thoroughly to rid dirt like sand and other foreign materials that may interfere with the smooth local processing and impair the palatability of the end product.
·         Soaking: Soaking is the next step to put in place immediately after thorough washing of the peeled cassava tuber crop.
Ø  Get an air tight container depending on the quantity of the available crop to be processed.
Ø  Wash the container thoroughly to rid foreign materials and dirt.
Ø  Fill the washed container with the peeled cassava tuber crop.
Ø  Fill the container with water till it rises above the level of the peeled cassava.
Ø  Cover the container to prevent the interference of air to establish effective fermentation process which takes place within three to five days.
After three to five days, the cassava mass would have start becoming pulp.
·         Pressing: Pressing is the next step to carry out after the soaked peeled cassava is almost turning pulp. Pressing can be carried out locally (stones) and mechanically (cassava draining machine).
Ø  Get a good draining sack and wash effectively to rid foreign contaminants
Ø  Get the soak peeled cassava out of the fermentation system, transfer them directly into the washed draining sack and hold the exterior of the sack tightly with any strong material capable of withstanding any applied force on the draining process.
Ø  Implement the draining activity with the aid of cassava draining machine for quick result.
Ø  Press and drain the mass to the best minimum moisture content.
·         Drying: Drying is carried out in the process of cassava flour production to finalize the work done by the pressing process. It reduces the moisture content of the mass to a satisfactory level to enable smooth, easy and quick sieving.
It is divided into two
o   Sun drying: it is the act of spreading mass in the sun to reduce their moisture content to the best possible minimum level. This method is commonly used in Africa by small scale cassava flour producers.
o   Artificial drying: It is the act of reducing the moisture content of a material mechanically. Materials are passed into hot steamed plant to reduce their moisture content to the best possible minimum level. It is mostly used by large scale cassava flour producers.

Ø  Get the pressed and drained cassava pulp out of the sack and prepare it for drying.
·         Sieving: This is the final step to obtain cassava flour. After the drying of the pressed and drained cassava pulp to the best minimum level, there is a need to separate the chaffs in the product obtained after the drying process to obtain cassava flour. The process of sieving is carried out with sieve. Sieve comes in any structure, wood, metal, plastic etc.

Get a sieve of either 2mm or 1.5mm and two containers for the sieving activity. The first container is where the chaffs that has been separated from the sieving mass will be placed and the second container is placed under the sieve to accommodate the finely sieved mass, free of chaffs which is the cassava flour.

It is estimated that at 10% inclusion, the demand by flour miller is 550,000 tonnes. From the above figure, it is sustainable market for cassava flour in Nigeria.
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