Cassava is an extremely resilient crop, performs well on marginal lands and is cultivated by over 90% of the farming population in Ghana. It is mono-cropped or intercropped with other crops. Cassava production and processing constitute a major source of income and rural livelihood contributing about 22% of Ghana's agricultural GDP.
Cassava production has been increasing within the past five years. In 2007, total production of cassava was a little over 10.2 million MT; 11.3 million MT in 2008; 12.2 million MT in 2009; 13.5 million MT in 2010; and 14.2 MT million in 2011.
Women play significant roles in the cassava value chain. Women are mainly involved in production (planting) bulking of cassava after harvesting, marketing of fresh roots and subsequent processing.
Yam (Dioscorea spp.) is a high value crop and significant source of dietary energy in Ghana. Its production is concentrated in Brong Ahafo, Northern, Western and Eastern regions of the country. From the literature, about one-third of the edible parts of the root produced for human consumption is lost through the value chain from production to consumption (FAO,2011). In Ghana post-harvest losses for agricultural commodities have been reported to be approximately 30%.
Our partners in Ghana are the Food Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, St Baasa Ghana Ltd, Social Development and Improvement Agency, and Caltech Ventures.
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 ...