Tuesday, June 1, 2010


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The industrial processing of cassava in Nigeria holds much potential for successful investment. The crop is increasingly attracting attention and processing businesses are slowly starting to spring-up all over the country.

Cassava can be processed into a number of products such as starch, flour, chips, garri, ethanol and glucose syrup, to name a few. These products are all in high demand locally and also have significant export possibilities but more emphasis seem to have been placed on cassava chip, pellet and flour.

The aim of this article is to highlight in the investment opportunity available in the processing of cassava tuber to garri, a staple food in Nigeria.

Garri constitutes a daily meal to some 150 million people world wide. It is a popular West African food. It is most widely eaten as Eba. Eba is made by sprinkling garri into a bowl or pot of boiling water and stirred until dough of garri is formed. You could add more water to the dough and stir to your desired texture. The finished product is called eba.

Eba is served with vegetable soup and fish or meat. In combination, this constitutes a very balanced diet. Before you finish reading this line, a ball of eba has just been swallowed with a heap of delicious African soup somewhere in Africa, Europe, America or Australia… oh how mouth watering.

Even more refreshing is a meal of coconut and garri under the hot tropical sun! Do you like yours with akara (beans cake) or smoked fish? Put a handful of garri into a bowl and add about half a cup of cold or ice water. You may decide to add sugar and or salt. Some even add evaporated milk and eat with smoked fish, beans, peanuts or coconut. This is frequently taken for lunch in many parts of tropical Africa.

Garri is a creamy-white, granular flour with a slightly fermented flavor and a slightly sour taste made from fermented, gelatinized fresh cassava tubers. Garri is widely known in Nigeria and other West African countries.

Raw Material:

The major raw material required to produce garri is cassava tubers. The fresh cassava tuber should be free from microbial or insect damage and without serious bruising or cuts. It should be processed within two days of harvest to prevent deterioration and loss of quality in garri.

Hygiene and Quality Process:

Fresh cassava tuber is a moist, low-acid food that is susceptible to bacterial and fungal growth. Hygienic practices, especially in the early stages of processing, should therefore ensure minimal contamination. All waste materials from the process should be removed from the site as they are produced to avoid the risk of cross-contamination. Washing should be carried out thoroughly to avoid contamination of the final product with peel, sand, and so on.

Fermentation must be properly controlled, as too short a period will result in incomplete detoxification and a bland product. Too long a period will give the product a strong sour taste. Both over- and under fermentation also badly affect the texture of the final garri.

If too much liquid is pressed from the grated cassava, the gelatinization of starch during subsequent roasting is affected and the product is whiter. If sufficient liquid is not removed, however, the formation of granules during roasting is affected and the dough is more likely to form into lumps. The ideal moisture content is 47-50 %, and this is assessed visually by experienced garri producers.

Sieving is important to obtain a high-quality product, free of fibrous contaminants and with similar-sized granules. The granules must be roasted to about 80 ºC/175 ºF to achieve partial gelatinization of the starch.

If lower temperatures are used, the product simply dries and produces a dry white powder. Too high a temperature will cause charring of the product and make it stick to the roasting pan.

Types of Garri:

There are different types of garri, depending on how it is processed, its grain size and the region of Africa where it is produced.

The Standards Organization of Nigeria classifies garri into:

• Extra Fine Grain Garri - where more than 80% of the grain passes through a sieve of less than 350 micro meter aperture
• Fine Grain Garri - More than 80 % of the grains pass through a sieve of less than 1000 micro meter aperture
• Coarse Grain garri - Not less than 80% of grains passes through a sieve of 1400 micro meter or less than 20 % of weight passes through a sieve of 1000 micro meter
• Extra Coarse Grain Garri - Not less than 20 % of grain is retained on a sieve of 1400 micro meter aperture.

You can choose any of the above texture size to meet the specific need you want to put your garri to. Generally, for making eba, the fine grain or coarse grain garri are usually okay, and the extra coarse grain garri for soaking.

Garri can also be classified based on fermentation length (days and extent) as well as whether palm oil is added to make it yellow or not. Such classifications include:

•Red Garri

This is the type of garri commonly found in the Edo, Delta and other eastern part of Nigeria. It is also called Bendel garri. It is made exactly the way described above, but for the addition of red palm oil after grating the cassava and the garri is allowed to ferment for two to three days also. Adding palm oil to the garri further helps to reduce the cyanide content and gives it a unique flavor.

•White Garri
Same as Bendel garri, left to ferment for two to three days as well, but red palm oil is not added during processing.

•Ijebu Gari

Ijebu garri is made same way too, but allowed to ferment for up to seven days. No palm oil is added. It is also fried to become much crisped. It characteristically has a very sharp taste and less starchy. Many people from the Western part of Nigeria love this and find it great for “soaking”.

•Ghana Garri
Ghana garri as the name implies is garri made in Ghana. Again the process is basically the same. The harvested and peeled cassava is soaked in water first. This step is skipped when making garri in Nigeria as above. After grating the peeled and soaked cassava, this is then sun dried, before frying it in a pot to cook it crisp.

Ghana garri thus comes out quite starchy, very crisp, and lasts very long in storage. No palm oil is added. It is very good in making eba.

Packaging and Storage:

The product is hygroscopic (it absorbs moisture from the air) and should be packed in airtight and moisture-proof bags, especially in areas of high humidity, to prevent mold growth.

The Market:

The market for garri is National. With a population of over 140 million people, estimated national population growth rate of 5.7% per annum and an average economic growth rate of 3.5 % in the past five {5} years, Nigeria has a large ,expanding and sustainable market for garri.
In fact at a point in the country, the product was so scarce that a 50 KG of garri was more expensive than a similar bag of imported rice.

Garri finds market in every home, hotels, restaurants, eateries and even abroad, where the demand for the product is increasing steady due to the fact that more Nigerians living abroad needs the product. It consumption cuts across every strata of the society both the rich and poor.

The Plant:

The manual processing of cassava tubers into garri is considered relatively unhygienic, time consuming, labour intensive and generally gives a low output. The plant being discussed here is a radical departure from the traditional method in that it is mechanized and utilizes machinery fabricated locally.

The plant is a 5 HP capacity machine and can produce five {5} tons of grated cassava tubers. The major machinery required in the production of garri is the grating machine, hydraulic press and the fryers. Other minor equipments required include knives/peelers, wheelbarrow, basins etc.

The machine in question produces high quality garri because most of the parts are made up of stainless steel. The price of the machine in question depending on the capacity ranges from N400, 000 and above.

Garri Processing:

To process cassava tubers into garri involves collecting and cleaning of the uprooted cassava tubers by washing them clean of sand, dirt and other impurities. Peeling of the tubers can be done with a knife or a peeling machine and then the peeled tuber is grated, that is, milled in the granulator into pulp.

The granulator is a device which has a wide opening and an internal grinding device. When the cassava is passed through the opening, it passes on to the milling section where the engine grinds it into wet pulp. The dewatering of the grated cassava by a press is the next thing to be done.

The presser is a device which applies pressure on the wet granulated cassava to remove the toxic elements and water from it. It consists of a strong metal bar constructed in form of a cage and pressure is applied from the top. The size usually determines the ton it can press. The dewatered grated cassava is allowed to ferment and then gelatinize and frying is done. The end product is packaged in bags ready for sale. Garri can be fried white or with palm oil added to produce yellow garri which commands greater market value.

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