Farmers relish GIZ’s mobile cassava processing innovation field test

“We have never had it so good before. Now our garri processing is so easy, neat and hygienic. “This was the testimony of farmers in Ogun state who shared their experiences on using the Mobile Cassava Processing Innovation (MOCAPI) scheme by GIZ in partnership with Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO) and a packaging company, Bosch. JOHN OBA reports.

Potential

Nigeria is the leading cassava producer globally with over 80% of the production processed into food products and consumed locally, while majority of Nigeria post harvest losses also happened along this line.

The major challenge confronting the sector is the large small holder women farmers engaged in both farming and processing mainly at cottage level. Some have formed cooperatives with hundreds of individuals sharing one site and working together like the Ifesowapo cooperative farmers and other small scale women farmers in Abeokuta North local government of Ogun state.

And according to GIZ findings, technology used is basic with hygiene usually not up to standard, even though cooperatives and micro enterprises diversify their production according to market demand, their business skills can be improved.

Partners initiative

To achieve these goals, GIZ under it Green Innovation Centre For Agriculture in partnership with Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO) and a packaging company, Bosch, took step to create access to modern technologies called Mobile Cassava Processing Innovation (MOCAPI) for cassava processing into garri with an attractive packaging without the need to invest in expensive processing equipment.

Subsequently, in a field test to ascertain thr efficacy of the equipment, the women cooperatives and micro enterprises were process their garrison with easy that would enable them to access more formal markets, achieve better prices and ultimately increase their income and improve stationary processes

Component of MOCAPI

The Mobile Cassava Processing Innovation (MOCAPI) is a combination of Grater, Hammer mill, Presser, used for dewatering of the grated cassava tubers, packaging machine and a mobile power generator of about 2.5kg all together in a three-cycle that tows a hydraulic press mounted on a trailer which can be moved to a processing site for the entire dehydration process while milling and packing garri for customers.

The service provided with this combination of equipment allows micro- and small processors to access mechanized processing as a rental service upon a pay per pack use.

Testimonies

The chairperson of Ifesowapo Cooperative Society. Ponkuku, Ishaga-Orile, one of the benefiting cooperative, Mrs Fatola Oniola, said the members have not been privilege to receive such training or have opportunity to use a mobile machine like the MOCAPI before but now the members have learnt the use of scaling, and the need to be hygienic even though her members produced well above 200kg of garri per week.

She said with the MOCAPI machine, the group will be able to comfortably produce twice more.

“That is why we are pleading with GIZ and it partners to assist us not just with the MOCAPI solution alone, but in other value chains also. We quite appreciate this short field test, but we are pleading for more. It would surprise you that we have 45 women in our group alone with only 3 men, so we need any help we can get.

“We also pleading with the government to assist us with fund and off takers of our produce. And if we can get the MOCAPI solution, we can package our garri and take then to offices to market. That is why I am insisting that GIZ should follow up what they have started by empowering us.

One of the farmers, a retired civil servant, Mr Rowland Adebayo Okikiolu, commended GIZ initiative saying it would go along way to enhance the farmers processing ability.

According to him: “This concept of MOCAPI is great, how I wish the whole country will adopt this, it is going to greatly help Nigeria farmers. With my people here, we have been able to see the importance of hygiene in whatever we do. Though we have been trying before, but with this, we are spore to do more.

“This will aide our processing if we have enough fund to get the MOCAPI. And i would say if the government would do something for us farmers, they should start from this,” he said

He said government adopting the initiative will be good but express concern that the politician L’s would hijack it like they have always done.

“Those who are rich already are the same that would hijack it, because when the government is doing anything today, they would say, it is for the small holder farmers, but the rich takes it over. If this MOCAPI is being subsidised today, and the government decides to purchase a 1000 for the small holders farmers, hardly would you see the actual farmers getting up to 21%, but the rich would take over everything and then Despenser to people.

Another farmers at Ikereku-Idan community, Mrs Oluremi Adesola, commended the initiative saying it has greatly enhance the women’s consciousness on hygiene. “I want to say farming is hard for women, but with this type of initiative, the stress will be greatly reduced. With this MOCAPI, women who were not willing to join us before have picked interest in garri processing. We now have more women joining the business,” she said.

Mrs Orobiyi Alaba, said the neatness, beauty and cleaningness of the garri brought about by the use of the MOCAPI make it attractive to customers. She however pleaded that the partners assist women in other value chains.

GIZ cassava Value Chain Adviser, under the Green Innovation, Mr Jide Ajibola, analysing the outing said it has been an interesting one, adding that: “what we have just done was to ascertain some qualities among the localities because being a field test, we are bound to make alot s of recommendations which will be added in the final product. We have been to Ponkuku, Ikereku Idan and Ibara, in a process that started since on Monday, but the key point was that the women learnt about the need to be hygienic with the use of the MOCAPI and also we see that under this innovation, we have lots of socio-economic advantages. Now the women spent less time and money for their garrison processing, they also have more time now for their family.

“At the end of this field test, we will send our recommendations so we can have a better MOCAPI,” he assured.

The Bosch project manager, for the MOCAPI project, Mr Jide Obasa, on his part appraising the exercise said, the process for the project commenced in 2017, with the identification of the areas in the value chains where there are lapses, especially in the area of hygiene having visited quite a number of towns and villages in Ogun and Oyo states. “We came up with the idea of designing a mobile unit that could work from one locality to another to help the small scale women farmers in order to alleviate the processing challenges they are going through so we can make it better.

“We started the design in the first quarters of this year by identifying the right partners to help. FIIRO help in processing, in the pack, we have the grater, hammer mill, presser use for de-watering of the grated cassava, and
the end of the line we have packaging unit provided by Bosch to help achieve a good packaging,” he explained.

He said the aim is to see that small scale women farmers are encourage by the value of their end products which will make it very economically viable as a result of the hygienic processes they are made to go through. So no matter the time of the year, the economic value of the product is sustained and as a result they are encourage to do more to upscale their garrison processing.

“From our pilot project so far, we have been able to identify that most community did welcome the idea of good packaging because it is something that would imbibe over time as it would enable them to achieve a good shift life for their products. For the communities, it is a new development, they welcome it and I am such this will go along way to help the achieve successful processing,” he said.

The director and head of department, Food Technology, in FIIRO, Dr. Oluwatoyin Oluwole, said FIIRO has worked extensively on developing various processing technology in the area of cassava utilisation, and discovered that GIZ too has similar interest.

“In fact, it was GIZ that initially contacted FIIRO, and our meeting ended as a collaborative initiative with the packaging company known as Bosch, this became a tripartite partnership with each organisation’s role defined.”

She said the effect of the MOCAPI solution on the small holder women farmers in cassava processing especially at small scale level will greatly increase their productivity and improve the quality of their products of the various community.

She said it would also increase their earnings and enhance food security. “Because during the pick season of harvest the usual trend is that farmers don’t sell their products at good prices but now this MOCAPI solution can be sued to convert the gluts with adequate packaging the product can have extended shelf life and can be stored.”

On the field test, Oluwole, said: “I noticed that the press equipment for dewatering has areas that needed to be adjusted especially the rate at which the spent water is draining out. I saw a situation whereby there was a glut at the bottom of the press, so if there would be more outlets, it would be a great improvement. I also found out that the handle use to press the hydraulic may be too difficult for the women, therefore there is need to make the handle gender friendly l, we don’t want a situation whereby the women would become masculine or experience pains

“I foresee a situation, whereby, there can be a second phase to this project where we can look at the frying methods because during this field test, I realise that the quality of garri from each community defer, despite the fact that it was the same start materials that they all used so there is need for standard procedures and quality across board irrespective of where the cassava mash is garrified.

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