Establishing Cassava Production and Processing Market

The cassava plant scientifically known as “Manihot esculenta Crantz” is an important food crop both for urban and rural consumers in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is highly adaptable to the tropical soils and climate, and cassava plant is very popular for producing excellent harvests. It is also the most widely available source of carbohydrates and dietary energy in Africa. Africa is the largest cassava producing region in the world and about 93 percent of the produce is consumed as food. Millions of African farmers cultivate cassava mainly for home consumption and for the local markets. The competitiveness of African cassava products at the world market is low, this is because the crop is produced and processed for subsistence and not for commercial use. Processed forms of cassava, for example gari, fufu, tapioca, flour and starch, are very common in West and Central Africa. Gari has traditionally remained cheaper than other carbohydrate sources, especially rice and maize. Cassava leaves are widely consumed in most African countries as a vegetable. According to Lancaster and Brooks 1993, the nutritive value of cassava leaves can be compared to those of soybean, maize and amaranth but with higher amounts of vitamins and minerals. The nutritive deficiency of cassava is not a cause for concern when it is consumed with other supplementary foods. But, the so-called "cassava problem" as related to the disease "kwashiokor" means that persons with low incomes can consume it in excessive quantities because it supplies sufficient calories and gives a feeling of satiety in their diet.

Cassava is used in a wider variety of products including flour, animal feed, and glue extenders. Cassava by its nature is one of the richest fermentable substances for the production of alcohol. Its fresh roots contain about 30 percent starch and 5 percent sugars, while the dried roots contain about 80 percent fermentable substances and are equivalent to rice as a source of alcohol. Technical requirements and specifications for processed cassava can increase along the spectrum of cassava processing from traditional food products to industrial grade products and to retail food products (e.g. flour). Cassava is most significantly processed through drying and there are three available options for drying which are; sun drying, flash dryers, and bin dryers. For most small-scale processors of cassava, the only feasible option is sun-drying and they are naturally restricted in potential volumes they can produce. This is due to inability of the product to dryduring many months of the year, and also the low volumes of cassava harvested during the dry season. A wide range of cassava processing techniques exists along with relevant equipment for processing the roots into various cassava products. As cassava is generally grown in rural areas and processed in small factories, it is important to promote and guide village farmers' cooperatives to process and market its products. Once we start making progress, it is important to establish a cassava board of directors composed of government officers, individual enterprise owners and representatives of farmers' cooperatives as well as representatives of merchants and related industries. This board should meet regularly to ensure a smooth continuation of the program and act in an advisory capacity to the government. This will handle problems of production and marketing of cassava products, opening of new markets and regulate prices of various products. Also, it will provide financial assistance to processors and traders, promote research, maintain quality standards and the development of new products as well. Factors which are of lesser importance have influenced the position of cassava on the market, particularly in a negative sense. Because it is mostly produced in developing regions with an unstable economic position, the product is not available with the same regularity and predictability like corn starch.

Establishment of a cassava enterprise

The estimated required investment and working capital for the establishment and the operation of a cassava agro processing enterprise as well as the estimated operating costs and the expected profitability of the project may vary. According to FAO if a cassava agro processing enterprise is be established in a tropical region where all basic industrial requirements such as power, water, raw materials are availableand transportation facilities, the total investment of such an enterprise can be estimated at $736 340 while the working capital can be estimated at $142 000. This is for the operation of the enterprise for a period of three months. This type of investment is expected to give annual profits of $108970, which is equivalent to 14.8 % of the estimated invested capital. The total investment for this type of project can be summarized as seen on the table below;


U.S. dollars

Land (5 acres; 2 ha)




Site preparation

5 000

Buildings for agro processing, storage, office, laboratory, garage, repair shop

90 000

Corrugated steel sheet construction for fence around plant

5 000


100 000

Process equipment


Cost of equipment

410 000

Installation (20 percent of cost of equipment)

84 000

Engineering and design (10 percent of total cost)


Start-up expenses

15 000


568 400

Contingency (10 percent of total cost)


Total plant investment

736 340

With this investment, and the use of suitable cassava varieties, the industrial yield of the product can exceed 24 percent. The cassava enterprise also needs to be supplied with modern equipment known to have the highest production efficiency.

Cassava Processing Machineries

The major disadvantage with cassava roots is that it deteriorates rapidly. The roots have a shelf-life of just 24–48 hours after harvest. The fresh roots must be processed within the next 2 to 3 days after harvest. The transformation of this cassava roots requires equipment for peeling, drying, boiling, fermenting, grating, frying, and milling. Cassava processing machineries exist which are reliable in performance, robustly constructed, have a longer functional life, and are corrosion resistant. These machineries are made from best quality raw materials that provides the long lasting service and good performance. The machines are made in different specification based on the requirement of the client. The various machineries for cassava agro  processing in the market include; Cassava Peeler, Cassava Grater, Cassava Cake Disintegrator, Cassava Driers, Cassava Chipper, Cassava Roaster, Cassava Fryer etc… These machineries exist on the market with different qualifications.

Supply of cassava roots

Most cassava agro processing factories buy cassava roots from growers in their neighborhood, directly or through agents. However, some cassava plantations are owned by some factories. Many cassava agro processing plants usually contract with various growers in the area to supply roots. In such situations, the cassava enterprise furnishes financial and technical assistance to the growers. An agronomist can be assigned to help producers develop better production practices and also to conduct control experiments for determining the proper varieties of cassava, the type of fertilizers, and methods of insect and disease control for the area.

Cassava flour and starch

Cassava flour is manufactured by separating starch granules from the cassava tuber in as pure a form as possible. The granules together with all the other constituents of the protoplasm, are locked in cells which can only be removed by a purification process in the watery phase. In the processing of cassava starch it is vital to complete the whole process within the shortest possible time, because as soon as the roots have been dug up, as well as during subsequent stages of manufacturing, enzymatic processes are developed with a deteriorating effect on the quality of the end product.The roots are usually received from the field as soon as possible and they can be stored for two days. For a proper rasping process of cassava, the woody ends of the roots are chopped off with sharp knives before the subsequent processing operations, this is to avoid the stoppage or the braking of the machine’s blade. The processing of starch and unfermented cassava flour can therefore be subdivided into the following stages:

Cassava starch is produced primarily by the wet milling of fresh cassava roots. Starch is the main constituent of cassava and about 25% starch may be obtained from mature, good quality cassava tubers. Under optimal conditions, this cassava flour processing technique enables small-scale primary processors to produce high quality unfermented cassava flour that can meet the specifications of industrial users within one day.

Conserved cassava products

The cassava plant is grown annually in the tropics and consumed in all its forms at nearly all income levels. The crop originally was a main food crop only in South America but today it is grown as a substitute for rice or alternately with rice in many regions of the world. Cassava can be conserved in several forms which include the following;

Gari: A good popular food among the low-income groups in west and central Africa. It is produced by fermenting grated cassava tubers and drying the product to a type of meal. The preparation in rural areas involves peeling the roots and grating to produce a pulp which is put into a large cloth bag and set in the sun to drain and to ferment. And when the pulp is sufficiently dry, the pulp is removed from the bag for final drying on a low fire. This low-nutrition food can be fortified with a protein additive if its production is modernized.

Cassava rice (landang)

This product is prepared by chopping the tubers and pressing the grated mass in a cloth to squeeze out the juice. By turning the mass in a winnowing basket, pellets are formed, and their sizes are determined by the motion speed and moisture content. The pellets produced are removed by sifting, steamed and then dried in the sun for some days. An alternative way of making the cassava rice is by soaking the cassava tuber in water in earthenware jars until after five to seven days they begin to soften. They are then macerated and the fiber is removed by hand and the mass is air dried before being made into pellets as describe above. Cassava rice is a popular food in the Philippines. The production of synthetic rice from cassava has recently been started in India.


This method of conservation involves slicing the cassava roots and drying in the sun. Gaplek is sufficiently durable when dried and in the tropics it can take 2 to 3 days to dry. Gaplek can be applicable in some starch-using industries where the whole root can be used, such as in textile finishing and also in the manufacture of alcohol.


Cassava pastes are made by pounding the fresh or boiled roots into a very smooth mass which can be eaten as a vegetable loaf with an oily stew. Examples of these products are the fufu of Ghana, Cameroon, the atieké of Ivory Coast, the dumbot of Liberia, the bami of other areas.

Options of drying Cassava products

Natural drying: This is exposing cassava mash on a polythene sheet directly to the sun. It is also referred to as “sun drying”. Sun drying has several inconveniences such as; susceptibility to damage due to inclement weather, slow drying rates, and also contamination. Because of these limitations modified sun drying and solar drying process, has been adopted for drying in rural areas.

Artificial drying: Artificial drying involves the use of a controllable source of energy; where the air used for drying is heated, either by solar means or a controlled means such as electricity or fuel.

Rotary dryer: The dryer consists of an insulated drying chamber shaped like a drum. The dryer chamber is fired by charcoal or gas and rotated by a diesel engine. It is cost effective and user friendly.

Flash dryer: this involves insulating the product contact surface with a stainless steel and a semi-automated feeder and it is operated with combined kerosene/spent oil. Flash dryer is user friendly and will encourage greater cassava products output.

Finishing and Packaging

Cassava products are generally packaged in plastic bags and bottles and also paper bags and are generally stored in dry places.

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