The use of cassava peels for livestock feed is an age-old practice whereby farmers sun-dry the peels in small quantities as a feed resource.
However, this labor-intensive process has been transformed for good due to an ingenious cassava processing strategy formulated by the Tropical Starch Company Limited, the leading cassava processing company in the Central Region.
With the capacity to produce thousands of tonnes per year, Alhaji Musa Ali, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, told the Ghana News Agency that converting the waste from cassava into safe livestock feed and weedicide was a game-changer.
“Converting the waste from cassava into a safe livestock feed has a significant effect to resolving the perennial animal feed scarcity crisis, pastoralist-farmers conflicts over natural resources and the high costs of compound feeds,” he said.
He said the innovation was first developed in 2015 by the International Livestock Research Institute and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Africa.
The process involved the grating of the fresh peel three times, to reduce the particle size and facilitate its drying, which is packed into sacks placed in a hydraulic press that removes more than half of the water content.
The sacks are left overnight to ferment and the resultant wet cake, which stores for up to a week, can be fed directly to cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs.
The wet cake can also be grated again to break up the particles, sieved into fine and coarse fractions, and dried again in the sun or by heat, which could be stored up to six months.
The dried fine cassava mash could be fed to poultry, fish, and pigs, Alhaji Ali said.
“Transforming cassava peel into nutritious feed has the potential to partially replace maize in animal feed while reducing environmental pollution and post-harvest losses,” he said.
“This crop-waste by-product is a valuable feed alternative as more than 178 million tonnes is produced annually in sub-Saharan Africa according to the FAO.”
“The product is energy-rich and has a nutritional value close to maize. When used in animal feed, it reduces the amount of maize needed, which cut cost and freed valuable grain for human consumption.”
Alhaji Ali said feeding trials conducted with small and large-scale farmers have shown the mash to improve feed conversion efficiency.
In broiler diets, specifically, the mash could replace 20 per cent or 1.5 million tonnes of maize going into manufactured feed.
For layers, it was determined that the cassava mash replaced 35 per cent of the birds’ feed ration and resulted in a 10-15 per cent reduction in the cost of feed for local farmers.
Meanwhile, cassava mash can replace up to 75 per cent of maize in the diet of growing pigs with about a four per cent reduction in cost per four-kilogramme weight gain without any adverse effect on the growth performance.
Touching on marketing, Alhaji Ali said cassava peel mash was a viable industry across Africa, particularly in Ghana and Nigeria, with strong potential to be scaled out in other countries.
“Environmentally, cassava processing for both household consumption and industrial use generates considerable quantities of cassava peel, which are left in large heaps to rot or set on fire.”
The rotting heaps released methane into the air and a stinking effluent pollute nearby streams and underground water, while burning produces clouds of acrid smoke, he said.