Growers of cassava and yam, two of the country’s commonest staple foods, are set to reap higher values from their produce following an intervention by the Food Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to reduce physical and economic losses of yam and cassava.
The CSIR will ensure that through a project dubbed “Gains from Losses of Root and Tuber Crops” (GRATITUDE), a four-year European Union (EU) funded project will also seeks to add value to the tubers by processing them into other forms of finished and preserveable products.
GRATITUDE is being done in collaboration with the Natural Resources Institute (NRI, UK) and YIFSWA of NIGERIA. Thailand, Holland and Vietnam are also working on similar projects.
On the theme, “Reducing Post-Harvest Losses for Increased Security”, the project is specifically focused on three key areas; Reduction of physical losses by focusing on storage of fresh yams; value-added processing to reduce physical and economic losses in yam and cassava, improved utilisation of wastes (peels, liquid waste, spent brewery waste) to produce products for human consumption such as snacks, production of mushrooms and improved animal feed.
The Business Development Advisor (CAVA Project) of the CSIR, Mrs Marian Tandoh Wordey, told the Daily Graphic that by focusing on the three areas, GRATITUDE would help to enhance the role that the crops played in food and income security.
She added that it would also help to create additional value in rural settings, generate income and employment and develop a more favourable balance of trade for the country.
Mrs Wordey said the project, which began early this year, would also develop a best practice and new technologies for agronomists, agricultural students, and other stakeholders, not only in Ghana but also around the world.
She explained that so far, the project had conducted appraisals of the yam and cassava value chain conducted in parts of Kintampo, Techiman and Atebubu-Amantin.
“It identified actors in the yam value chain; their roles and responsibilities; mapped out the relationships between them; investigated challenges and coping strategies; and focus group discussions (FGDs) method of data collection was used,” she explained.
She outlined some of the achievements of the project as the successful appraisal of yam value chain, training of researchers on value chain assessment and management and the starting of initial field work on value chain assessment.
The project had also identified and selected improved yam storage structures for construction at farm gates. Key yam varieties have also been identified.
Mrs Wordy said GRATITUDE project website was presently under construction, while composite from cassava peels had been developed for mushroom production.
Nevertheless, she said some challenge encountered included how to establish accurate volumes of waste generated from cassava and yams and identifying more financially feasible up-scaling opportunities that would be spurred by technology.
In sub-Saharan Africa, about 700 million people depend on cassava and yam as important root and tubers in the food systems and as food security crops.
Statistics by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAOSTAT, 2008) show that the world production of cassava is 228 million metric tonnes and 52 metric tonnes of yams are produced around the world annually, with Ghana contributing five per cent as the world’s sixth highest producer of cassava, after Nigeria, Brazil, Thailand, Indonesia and DR Congo. Ghana is, therefore, the second largest producer of cassava in Africa with a total output of 12.2 million tonnes per annum.
Again, root and tuber crop production steadily increased from 688 metric tonnes in 2001 to 740 metric tonnes in 2007.
The crops, however, record between 30 per cent and 60 per cent losses in their post-harvest periods either through processing or food chain, leading to losses in their economic value, physical losses and bio-wastes.
In Ghana, a total of 3.7 million tonnes of cassava peels(waste) are generated annually. Peels are generated at the processing (for gari, agbelima, kokonte and high quality cassava flour) and consumption levels (fresh cassava used in households and chop bars).
Source: Daily Guide
|Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not reflect those of Peacefmonline.com. Peacefmonline.com accepts no responsibility legal or otherwise for their accuracy of content. Please report any inappropriate content to us, and we will evaluate it as a matter of priority.|