Rockefeller Foundation develops solution for increasing cassava shelf life
The Rockefeller Foundation, Dalberg and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) have announced the results of the Cassava Innovation Challenge, launched in 2016 to uncover novel solutions for increasing cassava shelf life in Nigeria and the world.
At the first All Africa Post-Harvest Congress, held last month in Nairobi, the organisers awarded the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), based at the University of Greenwich, United Kingdom, in partnership with the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), with a grant of up to $500,000, along with technical assistance, to test and market a bag with a built-in curing technology that will keep cassava fresh for at least eight days post harvest.
Known as the main source of nutrition for an estimated half of the continent’s population, or 500 million people, cassava has a very short shelf life, and if unprocessed it will spoil within 24-72 hours after harvesting less if it is damaged during harvesting or transport.
As the world’s largest cassava producer, accounting for more than 20 per cent of global production, with more than 50 million tons annually, grown by nearly 30 million farmers, most of them with less than an acre of land, approximately 40 per cent of the country’s cassava is lost due to spoilage, a tremendous problem that limits farmer incomes and rural economic development.
Managing Director for Africa at The Rockefeller Foundation, Mamadou Biteye OBE, said the foundation was encouraged when it received more than 600 applications from 32 countries with ideas on how to solve the problem of a short shelf life for cassava. “Clearly a lot of people care about food security and ensuring that a vital staple crop is not lost due to lack of preservation technology.
“Upon the recommendation of our expert judges, we are investing in NRI’s bagging technology in part because we see farmers using bags with great success to store other perishable crops. Now is the time to try this for cassava. We know that when farmers win, we all win.”
The development is part of YieldWise, Rockefeller Foundation’s $130m initiative launched in January 2016, aimed at reducing food loss by at least 50 per cent by 2030 in representative value chains.
Research has found that post-harvest loss reduction solutions exist, but they are not reaching the farmers who need them. With the farmer in mind, the Foundation is promoting a variety of interventions in the areas of education, technologies, financing and market solutions to ensure production is linked to demand, and so improving livelihoods, creating less vulnerable ecosystems and natural resources, and increasing food availability.
According to Partner and co-Lead, Agriculture & Food Security Practice at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, Nneka Eze; “Over the past five years, we have led numerous projects on the cassava value chain and designed facilities to invest in cassava across Africa. We have kept running into the number one constraint in cassava – its short shelf life.
“Over the past year, Dalberg designed the challenge in partnership with IITA and The Rockefeller Foundation, reviewed over 600 applications, and coordinated inputs from our diverse group of expert judges. We are excited about the potential of NRI’s simple bagging solution to impact lives in Nigeria and in Africa, where more than half the world’s cassava is produced.”