How to Start a Cassava (Garri) Processing Business in Nigeria

Mandioca, tapioca, yuca, cassava
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Cassava is one of the most important root crops in Africa and statistics show that the production, marketing processing and consumption of cassava provides a major source of household income for a number of Africans; especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Cassava is a tuberous root that contains 60 to 70 percent moisture and has a shelf life of 2 to 3 days. Once harvested, it has to be either consumed immediately or processed into more stable product.

The cassava root is very important to the economy of a lot of African countries because of the relative simplicity of planting with little or no fertilization, flexibility in harvesting, drought resistance etc. The cassava root is a major source of food for more than 700 million people all over the world and Nigeria is one of the largest producers of cassava tubers in the world with a yearly production rate of 41 million metric tonnes. Despite these apparent scenario, Nigeria is yet to fully utilize the potentials of this root crop especially in the area of processing cassava for consumption and industrial use. Based on research and development over the years, the root can now be processed into several secondary products with market value including Garri and Cassava Starch.

Garri Production

Garri is a dry, crispy, creamy-white and granular food product produced by grating cassava roots into a mash. It is estimated that 70% of the cassava produced in Nigeria is processed into Garri and it is probably the most popular cassava product.

On the average Nigerians consumes about 7.7 million metric tons of garri per year, however actual demand for Garri is 12 million tons leading to a deficit which can only be resolved by the use of modern technology as against the traditional methods that is still prevalent.

Proper processing converts fresh cassava roots into edible garri which can be consumed as a liquid beverage or made into Eba or Fufu which is a staple food common in West Africa.

The Production Process

Factory: The factory should have at least two separate doors, one for the delivery of raw materials and the others through which finished products are taken away. The walls should be made of cement bricks but it doesn’t necessarily have to get to the roof. The floor should be made of concrete.

The Factory

A typical Garri Processing Plant consists of two sections e.g. the Wet Area and the Dry Area. The wet area is where the equipment and machines used for peeling, washing, grating roots into a mash and removing excess water are installed. In order to maintain good hygiene it is advisable for the floor and washing trough to be made with ceramic floor tiles. The dry area is where finished cassava products are made and houses machines used for breaking and sieving wet cakes, roasting wet cakes particles into garri, drying and milling. The final products are packed and stored here too. The dry area can be floored with concrete.

STAGE 1: Sorting:

After harvest, some roots may be damaged or rotten. These are sorted to select the wholesome roots for processing; only healthy roots (without rot or other damages) should be processed.

STAGE 2: Peeling and Washing:

Freshly harvested cassava roots are covered with soil and dirt. The roots are peeled to remove the outer brown skin and inner thick cream, layer and washed to remove stains and dirt. The water source should be checked regularly to ensure it is not dirty or contaminated. An automated washer and peeler are modern machinery which will greatly enhance the speed of production and automate the process thereby reducing cost of labour and associated headache of managing people. However, owing to the cost of these machines a small scale producer can make do with manual peeling of the cassava.

Cassava peeler
Cassava washer

STAGE 3: Grating:

Raw cassava contains a chemical known as cyanide which is unfit for human consumption and it is thus necessary to grate the tools properly to obtain a uniformly smooth mash without lumps as the smoothness of the mash determines the quality, yield and market value of the finished garri.

Grating machine

The grating of the roots should be done with a stainless steel automated grater in order to produce more quantity of cassava as against the manual graters which are still being used locally.

STAGE 4: De-watering and Fermenting

This completes the process of removing cyanide from the cassava mash. This is done traditionally by using stones or logs as weights to press excess water out of the bags of cassava mash. The bags are then left to drain and ferment for a few days. As with traditional graters, these methods are slow and unhygienic, and are therefore not suitable for a cassava processing. In a modern factory the water content in the mash is reduced using an hydraulic press whilst fermentation is done on the fermentation racks. The bags are then left to drain and ferment on the racks for a minimum of two days. Alternatively, the bags of cassava mash can be pressed for the required number of days, during which time the mash will ferment. At the end of the fermentation period, the mash will become a firm, wet cake. Fermentation periods of longer than one or two days will produce very sour products. Consumer tastes and preferences will therefore determine the length of the fermentation period.

Hydraulic press

It is important to ensure the area for pressing and fermenting has a good drainage to avoid contamination and public health hazards.

STAGE 5: Sieving:

The caked mash is sieved to separate coarse particles, with a standard size sieve to produce fine granules. A grinder can be used to break the large granules into smaller ones.

STAGE 6: Roasting:

The granules are then roasted or fried in a manual frying tray or in a mechanical fryer pan to form the final dry and crispy product. Garri is normally white or cream, but will be yellow when made from yellow cassava roots (some cassava tubers come with Vitamin A fortification) or when fried with palm oil. It is important to make sure the taste and smell is acceptable to local consumers.

Cassava fryer

STAGE 7: Packaging:

Remove the garri from the roasting tray and spread it thinly on a, raised platform in the open air to cool and dry. Several batches can be put on the cooling tray. Sieve the garri with a standard size sieve to produce fine granules, which are collected in a plastic bowl. The garri are weighed and then packed for marketing.

Market Potential

The market potential for Garri is huge and stable. Garri flour products, especially Eba and the soaked version, are consumed every day from huts in the villages to mansions in the city. Market includes everyone: students, workers, men, women, children, and the elderly etc. Which makes the market value of Garri products run into billions of naira every year. The West African market for Garri is currently estimated at 300 million people out of which portion Nigerian market accounts for over 170 million people.

Conversions:

1. The conversion rate of tubers to already processed garri is about 4 tonnes of cassava tubers to 1 tonne of garri.

2. That 1 tonne of cassava tuber delivered to the plants is N 5,000 per tonne.

3. The opposite prices are about 50 % of the value of cassava tuber, i.e. 50% of N 20,0000 which is N 10,000.

4. The selling price of one 50kg bag of garri is N5,000

Profit Forecast

  • 2 Tonnes per day of 8 hrs
  • Cassava tubers (8 tons x N5,000) 40,000
  • Other costs of production (50%) 20,000
  • Net profit a day 20,000
  • Profit a year working six days a week or 313 days in a year (313 x N20,000) N 6,260, 000

The project will retire all debts after the first year of operation and return a profit of about N1,260,000. It shows that it is viable and feasible. It can also retire the debt within six months if it operates on two shifts per day.

Conclusions

Setting up a Garri Processing Plant is a highly profitable venture and also helps society reduce poverty by creating job opportunities. To build a successful garri production business, you need to:

1. Select a location for your factory putting into consideration the source of cassava tubers, target market, etc.

2. Purchase appropriate processing equipment, making sure all equipment has stainless steel surfaces where it is in contact with the cassava, if these parts are made from mild steel, they will rust quickly and contaminate the garri.

3. Choose cassava varieties with high dry matter content, since these will produce more Garri.

4. Learn improved techniques and develop your skills in each of the Garri production steps.

5. Keep the environment of your factory in hygienic condition.

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Written by NaijaRoko

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