Increasing Farmers Profit

CASSAVA farmers and processors are set to earn bigger profits and get better-quality product through a new cost-effective and efficient flash dryer that produces 300 per cent more flour while using 40 per cent less fuel.

Developed by scientists working at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and National Partners in Nigeria, the improved flash dryer is capable of processing eight tons of raw cassava tubers into two tons of high-quality flour per day compared to the less-than one-ton daily production of existing models.

Aside from higher production capacity, the new flash dryer also consumes less fuel, using only 12 litres of diesel per hour to produce 250 kg of flour. Comparatively, current models burn about 20 litres of fuel per hour to produce only 80 kg of flour.

According to the Corporate Communications Officer of IITA, Mr. Godwin Atser, the new flash dryer is also cheaper. "Most models being used by cassava millers in Nigeria are imported, usually from Brazil, and cost about US$ 68 500 per unit. The new dryer is locally manufactured and costs about $22 800 each, or only about a third of the price of imported ones," he added.

"The improved flash dryer not only doubles the capacity of present ones in the market, but it also produces much finer quality of flour," says Dr. Gbassay Tarawali, Project Manager of IITA's Cassava Enterprise Development Project (CEDP).

He says the dryer also addresses the perennial problem of short-period perishability of cassava after harvest.

"The development and introduction of this improved flash dryer represents a win-win situation for the millions of cassava farmers and processors not only in Nigeria but also in other cassava-producing countries of West Africa," says Prof. Ayo Kuye of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt, who led a team of engineers in developing the new dryer in consultation with IITA.

"This new flash dryer will not only save the country millions of dollars in import payments but will also generate millions more in production increases and cost savings once it is widely distributed and used. This dryer is a success story for the cassava industry in general," he added.

National partners in the development of this improved flash dryer include the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi; the Roots and Tuber Expansion Programme of the International Fund for Agricultural Development; and Godilogo Farms in Obudu, Cross Rivers State.

Under the Presidential Initiative on Cassava, Nigeria mandated millers to integrate 10 per cent cassava flour to wheat flour in making bread, a move aimed at increasing the utilization of the tuber crop.

However, supply of cassava flour has not been able to keep up with demand. IITA and partners say that this situation will be improved with the introduction of the improved flash dryer, benefiting the farmers downstream with better market opportunities and prices for their crops.

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