Cassava is a major staple crop across many African countries and is a low-cost source of calories and nutrients for many households. However, high volumes of household consumption, industrial production, and processing have led to waste generation from discarded cassava peels. And this is where a Rwandan entrepreneur saw the gap to turn cassava peels into a thriving business.
Akanoze Nyamiyaga Ltd, a small cassava processing business in the Kamonyi District of Rwanda’s Southern Province, is changing perceptions of cassava trash by generating income from it. The company, which was established by Alice Nyirasagamba in 2018, turns cassava root into flour for cooking and baking.
Approximately 33.5% of the world’s cassava is produced on the continent, specifically within West Africa. Much of the cassava itself is being lost, as peels make up approximately 20% of the tuber itself.
The magic of HQCP mash
After learning about the high-quality cassava peels (HQCP) technology created by IITA and collaborators, the company expanded its operations by adding a processing facility to make and distribute HQCP mash to poultry farmers. The HQCP mash is the ideal component for animal feed and can be offered directly to livestock or combined with other animal feeds to feed animals.
“We use between 12 and 15 tonnes of fresh cassava daily in the first processing unit, and waste generated is processed into animal feed ingredients in the newly constructed unit,” Nyirasagamba said.
The company encounters substantial difficulties that have an impact on its capability for manufacturing as the demand for the HQCP mash rises. Through supply agreements with cooperatives and farmers of cassava, the company is securing its raw supplies.
“We started buying 500 kilograms of peels from farmers daily, but today we are buying about four tonnes of them per day. We have a machine that turns the peels into livestock feed for poultry, cows, pigs, goats, and others,” she continued.
“Our activities help protect the environment as these peels were scattered on the ground and would cause environmental degradation because some farmers used to burn them, and its smoke harms the environment and human health.”
Besides the environmental advantages, this circular economy enterprise has already employed eight casual staff – five men and three women – and generated about Rwf25 million (USD$25 000).
The Rural-Urban Nexus (RUNRES) project, financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and carried out by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH Zurich) and IITA, according to Nyirasagamba, provided her with technical and financial support.
According to Speciose Kantengwa, IITA Technical and Partnerships Officer, the RUNRES initiative, which converts agricultural waste into marketable goods, is active in four nations: the DRC, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and South Africa.
“Cassava peels are a threat to the environment in rural and urban areas, and the project seeks to address such waste accumulation by turning it into livestock feed. There is a need for such factories in every district to turn cassava waste into livestock feed. Entrepreneurs should tap into this opportunity,” Nyirasagamba concluded.