Cassava processing research in Nigeria

Women making gari. Photo by IITA.
Women making gari. Photo by IITA.

Between 2002 and 2010, IITA implemented the Integrated Cassava Project (ICP) to support the Presidential Initiative on Cassava. Under ICP, IITA and its partners successfully introduced and promoted more than 40 cassava varieties to Nigerian farmers, and facilitated the establishment of hundreds of processing centers and fabricating enterprises.

The Presidential Initiative was launched in July 2002. It aimed to create awareness among farmers on the opportunities in the cassava markets worldwide, increase the crop’s area of cultivation to 5 million ha targeting a harvest of 150 million t annually, and earn Nigeria up to US$5 billion every year from export, by the end of 2010.

It also targeted to produce 37.5 million t of processed cassava products annually, such as gari, pellets, chips, starch, and ethanol for local and export markets.

The Nigerian government provided IITA some funds to assist in its R4D efforts and implement the ICP. The project had two components: the Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) Preemptive Project which focused on production aspects through breeding and distribution of improved varieties resistant to the virulent Uganda variant of CMD, and the Cassava Enterprise Development Project (CEDP). This promoted the development of enterprises associated with cassava processing.

Through the project, IITA successfully introduced and promoted new varieties to farmers via the national agricultural research system (NARS), especially the Agriculture Development Program (ADPs). It also facilitated the establishment of many processing centers and fabricating enterprises between 2002 and 2010, contributing greatly to the development of the Nigerian cassava industry.

The study
A study was carried out to look at the impact of IITA’s processing research on Nigeria’s staple food system and to draw lessons from these interventions.
It addressed the following research questions:
• What is the level of awareness and adoption of improved cassava varieties, and other production and processing technologies?
• What are the effects of adoption of these production and processing technologies on farming households, their villages, the fabricators, and processors?

The survey was carried out in 70 villages in the four geopolitical zones in Nigeria: South-West, South-East, South-South, and North Central where 952 farmers, 143 processors, and 58 fabricators were interviewed.

Partial budgeting methods as well as micro-econometric evaluation methods were used to assess causal effects based on the changes in outcome and impact indicators in areas with the cassava processing research interventions relative to those without the interventions.

Sorting cassava. Photo by IITA.
Sorting cassava. Photo by IITA.

Technology adoption and benefits: Village level
The results showed that from 2002, the area of land under cassava production had increased by 17% in intervention villages and by 10% in non-intervention villages. Also, the crop was found to occupy more than 70% of total area available for food crops in the sample villages.

Processing machines, such as graters, pressers, fryers, grinders, dryers, and millers proliferated in intervention villages; small percentages of other processing machines, such as boilers and fermentators, were also found.

Cassava produced by farming households was consumed or sold, fresh or processed, with some going to waste. There was a decrease in the proportion of waste over the years in both villages; the same was observed in the sale of fresh cassava roots. On the other hand, the volume of processed cassava increased over the years, suggesting the positive influence among cassava farmers of the government’s efforts to boost production and processing.

Gari and fufu remain the most popular cassava products as they were a decade ago. However, in all villages especially in those where interventions were introduced, odorless fufu, starch, and chips were becoming increasingly popular. Other products such as cassava flour and ethanol were found but in small quantities and only in the intervention villages.

Technology adoption and benefits: Farming households
Cassava was the most important crop grown followed by yam, maize, and plantain/banana, among others. It occupies about 43% of the total cropland in the study areas.

The adoption rate for improved cassava varieties varied among farming households: 74% in intervention villages going up to 94% among those that had attended R4D training and 65% for the other locations.

On the adoption of processing machines, the grater was the most important with 60% adoption in intervention communities and 76% among those that had attended R4D training. It was followed by the presser; the adoption rate for other processing machines was found to be generally low.

Results also indicated that the adoption rate of improved cultivars was significantly greater in intervention villages than in nonintervention villages, with the use of graters for processing cassava having a positive and significant influence on adoption of new varieties. Factors that influenced the intensity of adoption of graters included contact with extension agents and the use of improved varieties, among others. Although adoption of varieties and the uptake of graters reinforce each other, the effect of improved varieties on adoption of graters was found to be stronger.

Given the greater influence of adoption of improved varieties on adoption of processing machines, a sequential approach should be used in technology delivery involving improved varieties and processing technologies. The sustainability of cultivation of improved varieties is ensured by the availability and use of cassava processing machines among the households in the villages.

Adoption of production and processing technologies took place mainly in the last 20 years, particularly in the last decade; 62% of respondents indicated that they started using improved varieties in the last 10 years, whereas 43% had started using the grater and 45% the presser. Responses were similar for other processing machines. This was the period when IITA and collaborators had intensified the push for production and processing technologies in Nigeria prompted by the Presidential Initiative.

The number of households processing cassava into various products had increased by 21% compared with 10 years ago. Gari (57%) and fufu (30%) were the most popular products. The remaining 13% was shared by other products, including cassava flour and starch, among others.

The gross margin values and the benefit-cost (B:C) ratios were greater for improved cassava ($4090) per hectare than for local varieties ($1500). The B:C ratio was 3:9 in favor of improved cassava varieties with the difference being attributed to the relatively high adoption of both improved cassava varieties and various management techniques extended to and used by the intervention villages.

Grinding cassava. Photo by IITA.
Grinding cassava. Photo by IITA.

Cassava machine fabricating enterprises
The study showed that 66% of the enterprises fabricating machines were small scale and that 79% of them were owned by sole proprietors. There were varying levels of awareness on the different types of processing machines with many fabricators using other machines not meant for cassava processing. Graters (85%) and pressers (83%) were the most popular machines fabricated, followed by grinders/millers (59%) and fryers (41%).

IITA-contacted enterprises performed better than the other fabricators. Factors influencing the numbers of machines produced included being a sole proprietor, year of establishment (2003–2010), experience in manufacturing machines apart from cassava-based types, availability of spare parts, contact with IITA/collaborators, and revenue from selling the machines. However, being a sole proprietor and the availability of spare parts had the greatest influence on production.

Processing enterprises
Half of the enterprises interviewed said that they had had contact with IITA/collaborators and 41% had participated in R4D training on cassava processing in Nigeria. The processing machines mainly used by these processors included graters (85%), pressers (67%), fryers (64%), and sifters (34%).

Adoption of cassava products, such as gari, starch, bread, high quality cassava flour (HQCF), instant fufu, odorless fufu, and broiler meal was generally low but still higher for those processors that came into contact with IITA than for those that did not. Adoption was higher for gari (70%), starch (14%), HQCF (16%), and odorless fufu (17%).

An analysis of gari processing showed that it costs less to use “machines only” for processing compared with “manual and machines” and “manual only”. From the cost analysis, $92 was saved when using machines to process 1 t of fresh cassava into gari compared with manual processing.

In conclusion, results indicate that gari is still the most popular cassava product (80% of households and 70% by processing enterprises). Graters and pressers were the most widely used equipment in Nigeria. Although the study found some reduction in adoption due to the decline in the implementation of the Presidential Initiative, most processors and equipment fabricators were still operating in the area. Despite a slow growth, processing increased with a high adoption rate of improved varieties (68%) by farmers. Processing equipment, such as graters and pressers, are now being used widely.