Garrison, what is this? I am sure this is the questions on your mind as you read the theme of this blogpost. Well by “Garrison” I refer to Gari made from Cassava and it can indeed make you rich.
Cassava is one of the most popular and widely consumed food crops in Africa. Because it is such an important food in the region and an extremely versatile crop, it is commonly referred to as cornerstone of food security in Africa. The competing needs for cassava cut across both human and animal consumption. It is fast becoming a popular raw material in industrial production and is now a preferred material for making biofuels.
Cassava is highly adaptable to our tropical climate and soils, and remains very popular for producing excellent harvests even when other crops fail. Cassava is also the most widely available source of carbohydrates and dietary energy in Africa. Processed forms of cassava, especially Gari, fufu and tapioca, are very common throughout West Africa.
Garri is hugely popular in the region as it has traditionally remained cheaper than other carbohydrate sources, especially rice and maize. This has aptly earned it the nickname “the common man’s food”
Garri is the most widely traded processed cassava product. It is estimated that more than 75 percent of the cassava produced in Africa is processed into garri. As a result, garri prices are often a reliable indication of the demand and supply of cassava.
Market Opportunities for Cassava and Gari production in Africa
Even for small scale entrepreneurs who are unable to participate in the international cassava export market, feeding the local African population with this most basic food stuff remains an interesting and highly lucrative prospect. What is more interesting is that as humans, animals, industries and biofuels compete for the valuable cassava crop, the prevailing local market prices will continue to explode!
The annual consumption of gari in West Africa is valued at several million dollars (annually) and is expected to grow with the population explosion in the region. For as long as a large proportion of the population in the region remains predominantly poor, gari will continue to be the preferred food product for many years to come. Gari has several applications in African cuisine and is prepared in very many ways across cultures and countries. It’s really well enjoyed and consumed by both rich and poor.
Cassava – Different garri African foods
Garri can be consumed in a variety of ways. The gallery shows different forms of cooked and raw garri creatively expressed for every belly’s pleasure.
Of all the forms of cassava that can generate income, garri is the cheapest and easiest way for entrepreneurs to enter and exploit the processed cassava market. Garri production is a low-cost and largely traditional process and can be done on a small scale. To produce garri, fresh cassava tubers are washed, peeled, mashed, fermented and fried to produce the coarse-grained product. A kilogram of Garri fetches up to five times the price of an equal weight of fresh cassava. By adding value to the cassava crop and processing it into a ready-to-eat staple like garri, entrepreneurs can earn a very healthy profit on the open retail market.
In addition to the large local market for garri, there is a huge opportunity, with a much higher profit potential, in exporting this product to the increasing number of Africans living abroad in the US and Europe. However, there are strict guidelines concerning food exported to these countries.
Success tips for aspiring Garri and Cassava producers…
For any entrepreneur to favourably exploit the opportunities in this market, he/she may have to invest in cultivating the cassava crop on a farm. If you are sure of a steady and very cheap supply of the fresh cassava tubers, you are likely to succeed without your own cassava farm. However, due to the high perishability of fresh cassava tubers, it may be very challenging to get the tubers to a processing centre or facility fast enough before spoilage starts.
It is also important to note that processed cassava (especially garri) is available in several different varieties. Be sure that your finished garri product appeals to the taste and tradition of your target market. Garri in Ghana may look and taste different from Nigerian or Togo garri. Even within our different countries, there are still many different types, shades and flavours of garri.
Additives such as palm oil and soya bean are sometimes used to enrich the look, feel, taste and protein content of the product. Understanding the ‘Garri’ needs of your market (quality, packaging etc) is very important so you don’t end up with the right product in the wrong market.
Garri that is not properly processed (especially by manual methods), may not last long in storage due to its high moisture (water) content. You may choose to sell the finished product as soon as it is bagged and ready. On the contrary, if moisture content in the finished product can be kept very low (using machine production), garri is known to last up to a year in storage and will command premium prices in the market during non-harvest periods.
Some things you should consider before you start…
A key success factor in this business is the nearness of a garri processing location to the source of your cassava tubers. Remember, if the tubers are not processed within 48 to 72 hours, cassava may start to spoil. If your source is far from your processing area, you may have to decide on a very reliable means of transportation to get your tubers to site as soon as possible.
Second, garri production can be a very manual process but the required labour is largely available and cheap. Using labour with previous experience of gari production from the interior villages (where the practice is prevalent) will be very helpful. However, this traditional manual production of garri is considered to be crude, uneconomic and unhygienic. Investment in cassava processing machinery may help to save a lot of costs and improve the quality of your garri. Several machines including Cassava graters, Fermentation racks, Hydraulic presses, Automatic Garri Fryers and Vibrating Sieves are available and can make the production process hygienic and economical.
Process flow chart for garri
It is commonly consumed either by being soaked in cold water with sugar, coconut, roasted groundnuts, dry fish, or boiled cowpea as complements or as a paste made with hot water and eaten with vegetable sauce. When properly stored, it has a shelf-life of six months or more.
Principle of preservation and processing of cassava
Cassava is fermented to remove cyanide and produce the desirable flavors. It is then roasted to destroy enzymes and microorganisms, to drive off cyanide gas, and to dry the product. Preservation is achieved by heating during roasting. A low moisture content inhibits recontamination by bacteria. Packaging is needed, especially in areas of high humidity, to retain the low moisture content.
Fresh cassava should be free from microbial or insect damage and without serious bruising or cuts. It should be processed within two days of harvest to prevent deterioration and loss of quality in gari.
Fresh cassava is a moist, low-acid food that is susceptible to bacterial and fungal growth. Hygienic practices, especially in the early stages of processing, should therefore ensure minimal contamination. All waste materials from the process should be removed from the site as they are produced to avoid the risk of cross-contamination.
Washing should be carried out thoroughly to avoid contamination of the final product with peel, sand, and so on.
Fermentation must be properly controlled, as too short a period will result in incomplete detoxification and a bland product. Too long a period will give the product a strong sour taste. Both over- and underfermentation also badly affect the texture of the final gari.
If too much liquid is pressed from the grated cassava, the gelatinization of starch during subsequent roasting is affected and the product is whiter.
If sufficient liquid is not removed, however, the formation of granules during roasting is affected and the dough is more likely to form into lumps. The ideal moisture content is 47-50 %, and this is assessed visually by experienced garri producers.
Sieving is important to obtain a high-quality product, free of fibrous contaminants and with similar-sized granules. The granules must be roasted to about 80 ºC/175 ºF to achieve partial gelatinization of the starch.If lower temperatures are used, the product simply dries and produces a dry white powder. Too high a temperature will cause charring of the product and make it stick to the roasting pan.
Packaging and storage
The product is hygroscopic (it absorbs moisture from the air) and should be packed in airtight and moisture-proof bags, especially in areas of high humidity, to prevent mold growth.
Other forms of cassava utilization include
1. Fufu flour
2. High quality cassava flour
6. Glucose syrup
9. Composite bread
10. Livestock feed industry
11. Livestock feed products
12. Starch in paper, etc.
13. Starch in food
14. Starch production