Have really been questioning myself on what Cassava peel is being used for in these highly industrialized nations. I am fully aware of the kind of patronages Cassava peel flour and HQCP are presently enjoying as choiced major raw materials in animal feed manufacturing Industries. The case of massive shipment of dried peels (not flour) out of Nigeria is what I keep wondering about. If the usage is not that important, those exporting it would not be expending that much shipment cost on what we have always considered as a waste in Nigeria.
These two discoveries and pursuant have further reinforce my believe in Cassava tuber, its components and derivatives as major inputs in driving industrialization in Nigeria economy;
One is the development of Cassava peels base bio – concrete, with Cassava starch playing a major role in its fluid mechanization.
Another one is the production of Cassava tuber or Cassava peel – base bio – plastic using sorbitol as the plasticizer.
One thing that give me joy and hope is the fact that all material inputs in these two products are all Cassava base and as a matter of fact, chunk of them are what we used to consider or throw away as wastes.
While I admit to the fact that these two products may belong to high end Production category which may require high level of scientific and technological applications, I do see lot of hope in the fact that our scientists at home are already thinking and working in this direction.
Even as this great fit is achieved, academics and research alone are not enough to achieve commercialization of such a great innovation. This is in relation with what a friend of mine said about innovations and research works in our academic institutions. He said it’s high time for our innovations move from Gown to Town. It is not just good enough that many of project and research works we do as part of exercises to wear graduation gowns end up on library cabinets. Deliberate efforts need to be made to commercialize the works and take them to town.
Coming down to our Industrialization outlook on Cassava utilization, it is very important we merge our research findings with technical upliftment. I believe this is the role that institution like FIIRO was created for. But I feel we should look at technical and commercialization supports that is focused on industrializing Cassava tuber utilization. There are still so many developmental areas we can look at. One of them is the utilization of cyanide extracted from Cassava peels and Cassava tubers for production of herbicides and other industrial chemicals.
Another angle through which we can look at harnessing our full potential of Cassava is through possible technical partnership with China and India. India is very good at taking discoveries into markets. China is doing very well on Cassava explorations and exploitations using simple and complex technologies. Nigeria needs to make deliberate efforts to learn and buy technologies that can take our Cassava exploits to the next level from these two countries. It is not just enough for them to put up factories in Nigeria. Joint institutions through which entrepreneurs can learn rudiments of Cassava exploitations and explorations need to be created.
Achieving commercialization of bioplastic production using Cassava peels will not only relieve our economy of demand for high cost petrochemical resins being used presently, embracing usage of biodegradable alternative will in addition help in achieving a cleaner environment. Also, usage of bio-concrete alternatives in building and construction works will help reduce dependency on cement made from limestone and consequently reduces environmental pollution.
And the Cassava peels that used to be a complete waste Product and environmental mess is gradually becoming source of wealth to Industries and individuals who are operating in Cassava value Chain.