Nelly Bassily | February 2, 2009
It all started one day when Kolawole Adebayo was watching goats at a dump. The goats were eating cassava peels that had dried in the sun. And they seemed to love it. Mr. Kolawole says he suddenly thought “wait a minute: suppose we use the cassava formally as animal feed!”
Mr. Kolawole’s home country of Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava. The root vegetable is a well-loved staple food. But a significant portion of the plant is inedible. When cassava is prepared for a meal, the chaff and outer peel are removed. Mr. Kolawole says that for every tonne of cassava eaten, about 300 kilograms of peel and chaff go to waste.
The peel and chaff are typically thrown into a dump pile. When the pile becomes large, it is set on fire, emitting carbon dioxide and other pollutants. Mr. Kolawole, a lecturer at the University of Agriculture at Abeokuta, in Ogun State, southwestern Nigeria, initiated a project to turn this “waste” into profit.
After witnessing the goats at the dump, Mr. Kolawole considered how best to dry cassava peelings. With the help of local stonemasons, concrete drying platforms were developed. To turn cassava peels and chaff into goat feed, all farmers have to do is dry them in the sun. Mr. Kolawole now encourages others in Ogun State to purchase locally-made drying platforms. Once dried, the peelings and chaff can be stored for up to six months.
Mr. Kolawole has secured funding from the World Bank to promote cassava peelings as goat feed. His colleagues at Abeokuta University completed a study showing that goats fed cassava peelings as a supplement to their regular diet gain weight more quickly. And fatter, healthier goats mean more money for goat keepers.
While this innovation solves the problem of cassava waste and promises extra income for cassava farmers, it should also help goat farmers. Mr. Kolawole says that goat forage is dwindling in Ogun State. Conflicts can arise when goats wander into farmers’ fields, and even houses, looking for food. Dried cassava peelings may make for affordable feed, keeping goat farmers in business.