Cassava Is Underutilised – FAO Study Reveals

Cassava RootCassava has the potential to transform access to livestock feed for poor farmers, says a Ghana focused study conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The study said processing of raw cassava into pellets, chips and feed meal could directly boost the Ghanaian livestock sector by reducing production costs.

The high costs of feed has been a major constraint in expanding the livestock sector, maize-based feed can constitute 60 to 75 percent of the total cost of production.

Conversely, cassava has a cheaper market price and has so far been underutilised as a source for livestock feed.
In Ghana, cassava is a major crop which has witnessed steady increases in annual production. The potential for higher cassava yield and production has been demonstrated in studies across West Africa highlighting the potential opportunities for the diversification of cassava products along the value chain.

The study undertaken by FAO said the high moisture content of the cassava tuber resulting in high handling, transportation and storage costs made the usage of cassava  as an alternative source of feed, alongside its low protein and vitamin content very low.

“Solutions identified in the study include scaling up technology transfers such as the use of solar driers, critical for reducing moisture levels within cassava roots and enabling cassava slicing. This reduces the levels of hydrocyanic acid making cassava safer for animal consumption,” the study said.

The study encouraged the government to play an active role in supporting the cassava sector by strengthening agriculture extension networks and forming partnerships with livestock farmers associations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

“Awareness-raising on the potential of cassava products and by- products with regard to livestock feed is highlighted with a focus on opportunities for income generation for smallholder farmers.

“Greater private sector engagement is underscored in relation to commercial  feed millers in order to sustain demand for feed through market promotion,” it said.

The study also urged the government to formulate policies encouraging improved production, processing and diversified use of cassava as a way of developing local markets were highly desirable.

The study said the FAO was working in partnership with the government, producer organisations and the private sector on the Regional Initiative on Rural Poverty Reduction which addresses the central issue of inclusive value chains focusing on the cassava sector.

“It is envisaged that the finding from this study will be used to inform the implementation of activities on the ground with a view to maximising efforts for poverty reduction. The initiative is currently in operation in the Northern Region based on the West Gonja district,” it said.

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