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DSC 0368LTNguyen 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.

Tien Hung now has 3 children, and including his grandparents his cassava flour production supports a household of 7 people.

He buys dried cassava chips from suppliers mostly in the mountainous areas of north-west Vietnam, and mills the chips in his factory to make flour. Cassava chips need to be dried as soon as possible after harvesting to retain the quality, but they can then be stored for several weeks before milling enabling production to take place all year round. Tien Hung pays attention to the quality of the chips, to make sure they meet certain quality of hygiene and starch content.

Tien Hung then mainly sells his milled flour to wood making manufacturers to use as a glue in the paperboard process, but also to the food industry (eg. a coating for fried shallots), to locals for use in traditional cakes, and to animal feed producers.

Cassava starch/flour can be used for many different things. If the quality is right, it can replace wheat and maize in bread and bakery products. A slightly simpler product is also used as a binding agent by plywood manufacturers. Tien Hung produces the flour in a hygienic environment and sells it on to different industries that make those end products.

He says: "Demand for cassava flour is increasing, although the price has seasonal variation. I intend to remain in cassava flour production, and even to expand the business when my children have grown up".

The School of Biotechnology and Food Technology at the Hanoi University of Science and Technology, as part of the Gratitude project are working with Tien Hung to understand the cassava value chain in Vietnam in order to ensure that technologies developed by the project concerning waste products and ways of reducing loss are commercially viable for the key actors.

Olutu Ifeoluwa Omobolanle - Masters student FUNAAB

nigerianstudentBeing 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.

Mushroom production process in Ghana

DSC 0051LT copyPreparing 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.

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Cassava flour producer, Hanoi Vietnam

DSC 0368LTNguyen 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 ...