Cassava is an annual tuberous root crop that thrives in tropical and subtropical regions. It is particularly cultivated for its edible root, which is a major source of carbohydrates in this part of the world. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTATS) of the United Nations, the year 2016 saw 277 million tonnes of cassava root being produced worldwide. It is interesting to note that 57.1 million tonnes of the global production came from Nigeria, making her the world’s largest producer.
One of the best features of cassava is that it has multiple useful parts. Consequently, the crop is cultivated for several purposes uses. These uses can be broadly categorised into food and industrial. However, the range of uses can be broken down into specific items that somehow find their way into our home for everyday use.
Cassava roots are widely processed for food. For one, the roots can be eaten directly as starch food such as custard and pudding. They are also typically extracted, washed and pulped for tapioca. The Cassava tuber can also be dried and ground into flour for bread and crackers. The flour also serves as thickener for soups and pies. Note that the food use of cassava varies from region to region. For instance, in Nigeria, and some other parts of West Africa, it is locally processed into a granulated form – garri or made into a paste – akpu or fufu. Also, many people cook cassava leaves as vegetables, particularly in soups.
In addition to human consumption, cassava extracts are also very useful as Livestock Feed. For one, dried cassava leaves are used as protein feed supplement for livestock. Also, cassava tuber peels is a delicacy for goats, sheep and pigs.
Apart from consumption, another major end use of cassava is for glue. The starch from cassava is often extracted and gelatinized in hot water or chemical solutions, for the production or manufacture of natural adhesive.
Also, with further processing, cassava starch can be modified to manufacture the corrugated cardboard used in making cartons. For effective use, medium quality flour with moderate pulp content is used as raw starch set against multiple layers of board. Then, intense heat from hot rollers in the factory is used to effect the gelatinization of the raw starch to achieve a strong bond.
Depending on the manufacturing process, starch can be used in various ways. There is starch applied to postal stamps, envelop flags and wall papers. Starch is also used heavily in book publishing – for printing and in creating arts such as montages, mosaics and papier-mache.
- Laundry Products
Cassava is also used in manufacturing a number of laundry products, especially as fabric starch. After processing, this starch is packaged for domestic use. You can then dilute with water and spray over clothe while ironing. In some areas, the clothing item to be starched is dipped in a bowl of water containing starch. Thereafter, the fabric is hung to dry without squeezing.
Also, cassava starch is often used in the soap making industry to make detergents. This is because it has proven effective in preventing dirt from being re-absorbed into the fabric it is washed out from. According to experts, it is an “effective dirt redisposition inhibitor”. Apart from this, dry cassava powder or paste can be applied directly to fabrics as stain remover. After it dries up, you can brush it off.
- Food Processing and Pharmaceutical
After it must have been dried and ground, cassava serves as filler in the food and pharmaceutical industry. In particular, it contributes to the solid component comprised in pills and tablets. Also, a less sweet form of sugar is produced through the acid hydrolysis process that converts starch to glucose sugar. In the same vein, the D-glucose type is produced from starch by the process of complete hydrolysis.
Generally, cassava starch is preferred specifically in the manufacture of glucose syrup because of its low protein, soluble protein, content. Besides, its roots are also a rich source of dextrose, which can be recrystallized for use as a “pharmaceutical-grade sugar”.
Today, the glucose syrup and dextrose extracted from starch is largely and increasingly replacing the use of sucrose in the food processing industry. Perhaps this is because of cost savings from the direct manufacture of glucose syrup from its starch endowed roots as opposed to first separating the starch and purifying it before the proper syrup production.
In recent times, there’s a move from the use of fossil fuel to biofuel. This is because there have been scientific observations indicating that humans need to focus more effort on preserving our natural habitat. Overtime, there has been inherent physical manifestation of adverse environmental signs such as global warming.
According to Wikipedia, biofuel “is a fuel that is produced through contemporary biological processes, such as agriculture and anaerobic digestion, rather than a fuel produced by geological processes like those involved in the formation of fossil fuels including coal and petroleum, from prehistoric biological matter”. In essence, the use of biofuel made from ethanol, a fermented derivation from starch, is healthier for the environment than what most of the world currently uses – petroleum.
Many African countries are now joining the ranks of major bio-ethanol producers in the world. However, countries like Brazil have already set a pace in the production of bio-ethanol from cassava starch. As for Nigeria, this is another industry that has the potential to produce profitable economic outcomes.
Although Nigeria stands as the world largest cassava producer, we do not have socio-economic result commensurate to our potential. For instance, we do not export as much as Thailand which is the second largest producer global (Treesilvattanakul, 2016). This is why Zowasel is encouraging the widespread cultivation of cassava by providing smallholder farmers with access to finance and market. Our crowdfunding platform connects farmers to free loans from lenders to encourage more people to farm. In addition to this, we keep them informed of agricultural best practices to ensure optimal yield. In the end, on the Zowasel Market Place, farmers are guaranteed access to a network of buyers who offtake their produce.
Essentially, the potential uses of cassava in the Nigerian society cannot be overstated. Large scale cassava production opens a major avenue to reduce unemployment, as well as support enterprise. In the end, it presents opportunity for a major leap in the eradication of poverty and hunger in the country. One major advantage for Nigeria is the suitability of the region for the cultivation of cassava. This gives us an edge in the production, both in terms of quantity and quality. As a result, if collective investment is made in the industry, national economy can get a boost from the exportation of cassava products. You too can be a part of the social progression. Visit www.growsel.com to support a farm today.