Home Latest Insights | News The Environmental Impacts of Cassava Production in Nigeria: How Researchers are Turning the Negatives into a Profitable Venture

The Environmental Impacts of Cassava Production in Nigeria: How Researchers are Turning the Negatives into a Profitable Venture

The Environmental Impacts of Cassava Production in Nigeria: How Researchers are Turning the Negatives into a Profitable Venture

Cassava is a very prominent crop in Africa. Nigeria is the world’s largest cassava-producing country. As at 2014, the global cassava production was 215,436,496 tons, out of this, Nigeria accounts for 20.3% making her the largest producer in the world. Cassava is cultivated in over 80 countries of humid tropical regions of the world. Cassava products are rich in carbohydrates, vitamins (mostly vitamins B and C), and essential minerals and low in protein.

The nutrient composition of a cassava plant depends on the variety, age, and prevailing environmental condition including soil characteristics. Cassava is a major source of energy for more than 2 billion people in the world especially in the tropical region. Cassava is consumed by more than 500 million people in developing nations and about 300 million in the tropical countries. In Nigeria, cassava farming and processing into useful food items is a major source of livelihood to several families especially in rural areas.

Cassava peels make up 20% of the whole root, but are discarded during processing. The peels amount to nearly 40 million tons per year in Africa alone, giving cassava a bad name as an environmental polluter with the mountains of waste around processing centers.

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Cassava mill effluent (CME), liquid waste generated from cassava processing is noted for its ecological hazard. Due to the acidic nature of CME, it is toxic to households, animals, fisheries and other organisms. Most of the human food resources are found in the environment including water and land. Acidification of water and soil leads to loss of viable food resources. It could lead to decline in abundance and composition of fisheries over a long period of time which could have adverse impact on human who depend on these fishes as source of protein.

To create a business opportunity out of this undesirable byproduct, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) developed a high-quality cassava peel (HQCP) feed ingredients from wet peels. This innovation enables rapid water removal and accelerates the elimination of hydrocyanide. The intermediate product (60% dry matter, up from 30% in fresh peels) is safe for livestock to consume and stable for up to a week and can be sun-dried or heat toasted to a storable product (90% dry matter). This can be done any time of the year in a small- and medium-scale setup or flash-dried in a more industrial case.

Since three tons of fresh peels yield about one ton of HQCP, Africa’s cassava peel waste could generate at least 12 million tons of HQCP annually – equivalent in metabolizable energy (ME) to 8 million tons of maize thus spared for direct human consumption. In addition, there is willingness to pay for HQCP; for example, when maize prices reached $300, HQCP was being purchased for $150. This ratio holds for wide price bands. The huge value creation of this high-impact innovation provides an alternative source of feedstuff, protects the environment, and provides new income sources to smallholders producing cassava.

The innovation has been supported by the CGIAR Research Program (CRP) on Root Tubers and Bananas (RTB), and it leverages the expertise of several private and public partners in Nigeria, such as the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), Raw Material Research and Development Council (RMRDC), Bank of Industry, and SingleSpark from the Netherlands, makers of FeedCalculator.


Iheanacho Okike, International Institute of Tropical. Agriculture (in.) The Innovation Revolution in Agriculture: A roadmap to Value creation. Hugo Campo (editors.). Springer.

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