The Gratitude project works in four countries of Africa and Asia: Ghana, Nigeria, Thailand and Vietnam. Cassava and yams are important food security crops in much of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia because their presence in the cropping system increases the resilience of farmers in the face of climate change, drought, and fluctuations in the price of durable commodities.
Including both African and Asian partners in the consortium adds to the comprehensiveness of the project approach in that it enables the project to take a more holistic view of post-harvest losses within the context of global food security.
Being part of this world, I have experienced the devastating impact of discarded waste generated from various industrial and agricultural processes when this waste actually has a high potential to be recycled and converted into high value products.
As a food scientist, reducing postharvest losses is a continuous challenge, so it is a fantastic opportunity to be involved in the Gratitude project whose goal is to address this issue.
I am honoured to be part of this project, it has given me the confidence to communicate to individuals that instead of disposing and burning cassava peels, farmers can grow mushrooms, a highly nutritious fungus that has the potential to contribute to solving the problem of protein malnutrition, unemployment and food insecurity.
Inputs from experienced researchers also involved in the Gratitude project have guided my research in extending the shelf life of mushrooms grown on cassava peels to 24 days; 22 days longer than the usual 2 day period.
Through the project I have had the opportunity to see the commercial production of mushrooms using cassava and yam wastes as substrates, as a great means of income generation. I am now planning to attend intensive training on mushroom production in order to start my own mushroom farm.
Preparing the substrate
Mushrooms are grown from a growth material called 'substrate'. To create the substrate, cassava or yam peels are dried and then milled. Water, lime and rice bran, are added, and the substrate is mixed and heaped into a pile on the ground. It is then left to ferment for 28 days. The compost needs to be turned every 4 days for proper aeration and uniform composting.
Nguyen Tien Hung is a cassava flour producer in the Long Bien District of North Hanoi, Vietnam. 20 years ago, as the economy in Vietnam collapsed in a post-war crackdown on remnants of capitalism in the South of the country; Tien Hung was struggling to earn a living working for a public company. He saw an opportunity in producing cassava flour, realising there was a ready market with ready buyers, and he hasn't looked back since.Read more ...