• Need multi-point interventions in the value chain, which may differ by location and time.
• Partnerships are essential to progress.
• Facilitation of the value chain is very important – provision of equipment and training is not sufficient
• Public – private partnerships essential to success.
• National ownership is very important.
High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) can be used as an alternative for starch and other imported materials such as wheat flour in a variety of industries in many countries in Africa.
Market demand and commercial partners have been identified in various industrial sectors (plywood, paperboard, bakery, confectionary and industrial and potable alcohol) which rely on expensive imported raw materials. A locally produced cassava-based alternative has the potential to substitute for the imported material (import substitution) and create a market for the farmer's cassava.
[Figure] Potential HQCF markets in Malawi 2010
Uses of HQCF include raw material for the production of glucose syrups, industrial alcohol and bakery products, the production of adhesives, as an extender for plywood glues and as a source of starch in textile sizing. Specifically;
• Bakery products - HQCF was used at levels of 10-35% in bakery products; popular in rural areas where consumers preferred the heavy cake like texture;
• Glucose syrups – A controlled process was developed for conversion of HQCF into sugar syrups with a range of dextrose equivalents to meet different end-user requirements using enzymes from plant seedlings;
• Industrial and potable alcohol – A system was developed for conversion of sugar syrup into ethyl alcohol for industrial or potable use;
• Adhesives - HQCF blended with soluble borax and caustic soda to produce Bauer type paperboard adhesive that could completely replace imported starch based materials. HQCF was used for complete substitution of wheat flour as an extender in urea and phenol formaldehyde resin plywood adhesives.
Purchase of fresh cassava roots and drying cost are the highest cost elements in the processing of HQCF (Figure 3). These elements often represent 25-50% of the total cost of producing HQCF in many African countries.
Efforts to reduce these costs therefore would contribute immensely to making HQCF more price competitive against its major rivals.
[Figure 3] The cost components of HQCF production and projected prices by different market segments in selected African countries.
The processing of cassava roots in HQCF involves peeling, washing, grating, pressing, disintegration, sifting, drying, milling, screening, packaging and storage.
High quality cassava flour (HQCF) is simply unfermented cassava flour. It can be used as partial replacement for many bakery and pasta products. Several sources report that at least 10per cent of the wheat flour used for baking can be substituted by cassava flour without any change to the taste or other qualities. The substitution ratio greatly depends on the quality of the cassava flour. Edible cassava flour is packed, transported and stored in containers, which will safeguard the hygienic and organoleptic qualities of the product.
Cassava is traditionally grown by large number of smallholder farmers. Each farmer usually cultivates less than 2ha in scattered plots. Meanwhile, emerging markets for High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) make orders and expect deliveries in large quantities (average is 33Mt/delivery) in systems that are not currently set up to accommodate a large number of variable quality suppliers.
The key challenge to linking cassava farmers to the large markets for HQCF therefore is one of aggregation and facilitation of delivery of HQCF to factories through a value chain originating from several small farmers (Figure 1).