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Business News of Thursday, 29 January 2015

Source: GNA

Cassava processing group to benefit from training

The Manchi Women Cassava Processing Group in the Ga West District is to benefit from a training programme in processing of quality cassava products.

With a grant from the Council for Technical Vocation Education and Training (COTVET), the Food Research Institute (FRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research would train the women in the processing of high quality cassava flour, soya gari, starch and tapioka, a local cereal.

The diversity of secondary products cassava offers makes it a very useful root crop.

However, once harvested, cassava roots are highly perishable and signs of deterioration begin to appear after a few days.

Apart from its use as food, cassava is very versatile and its derivatives and starch are applicable in many types of products such as foods, confectionery, sweeteners, glues, plywood, textiles, paper, biodegradable products, monosodium glutamate, and drugs.

Cassava chips and pellets are used in animal feed and alcohol production.

In an interview with Ghana News Agency, Head of Commercialisation and Information of the FRI, Stephen Nketiah said because of the high perishability of cassava, early processing of the roots is an inevitable option once they are harvested.

Processing involves different combinations of grating, dewatering, drying, soaking, boiling and fermentation of whole or fragmented roots to remove cyanogenic compounds which imparts toxicity to the roots.

According to him the food industry has a legal and moral responsibility to produce and prepare food that would not harm the consumer and must therefore rely on modern quality management systems to ensure the quality and safety of the products they produce.

Head of Food Microbiology Division, Dr Mary Obodai said food manufacturers and entrepreneurs must aim to produce products which consumers would prefer to that of their competitors and therefore should adhere to processing procedures that would ensure highest quality.

“Consumers also like to know or have an idea as to what they are always buying, and it is therefore important that food products that the consumers buy from the manufacturer are of the highest quality,” he said.

The Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Sam Nii Atukwei Quaye urged the women not to take the training for granted.

The Assemblywoman of the area, Madam Comfort Dzormelo lauded the efforts of the women saying it was through their initiative that that the Manchie community had electricity and a school.

She appealed to the assembly to help secure the land that houses the structure they use for their produce against encroachers.

Mr Yaw Oduroh, COTVET Project Monitor expressed the need for participants to show interest in the training to achieve the desired results.

Mr Gregory Komblaga of the FRI would be the trainer of the project while Mr Jonathan Ampah, an engineer with the institute would also train the women in the use of the machines for the production of high cassava products.

Cassava (Manihot esculenta) is a perennial woody shrub with an edible root which grows in tropical and subtropical areas of the world.

It has become the most important root crop in Ghana and is becoming an increasingly important staple food.

Its production is increasing due to its ease of cultivation, low maintenance requirement, drought tolerance, and ability to provide a root yield over an extended harvest period.

It is a root crop of choice to subsistence farmers because it provides food security and cash income when required.

It is rich in carbohydrates, calcium, thiamine, riboflavin niacin, vitamins B and C, and other essential minerals. Unfortunately the protein content of cassava is very low.