A six- cyclone cassava flash dryer, which will help reduce post-harvest losses, has been inaugurated at the Food Research Institute (FRI) in Accra.
Built at an estimated cost of $50,000, the equipment helps to process root and tuber crops weighing over 400kg into flour within an hour.
The flash dryer is part of a three-year project known as Upscaling the Nigerian Flash Drying experience for sustainable regional trade and income generation in West Africa (UDESWA), aimed at halving poverty in the West African sub-region by the end of 2016.
The inauguration was performed by the Director General (DG) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr Victor Agyemang, the Director of FRI, Dr Mrs Mary Obodai, and other dignitaries.
Benefits to farmers
In an address to welcome guests, Dr Obodai said the building of the machine had come at an opportune time for smallholder farmers as well as stakeholders in the tuber and crop production industry.
She further said it was part of the institute’s mandate to produce such equipment to address farmers’ needs.
Dr Obodai indicated that the machine, which is currently at the pilot stage, would be replicated across the country in the not-too-distant future.
“We want this to become a model for Ghanaian stakeholders, including engineers and manufacturers, to team up with the FRI to build and replicate it in every part of the country.
“The UDESWA project will benefit manufacturers of commodity processing equipment and machinery in the West African countries,” she added.
For his part, Dr Agyemang indicated that there was the need for value addition for products by farmers, as that would go a long way to improve their income levels.
He called on stakeholders, including manufacturers, engineers and extension agencies, to work closely to address post-harvest losses.
Flash cassava dryer
Briefing the Daily Graphic after the programme, the Project Coordinator of the UDESWA project, Dr Nanam Dziedzoave, said the machine operates at a high level efficiency, and comes in handy for small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) in the root and crop tuber industry.
He said the machine comes with parts such as burner, fan, chimney, clones and heat exchanger, which help it to function appropriately.
It works by feeding it with either cassava or any tuber crop. The fan pulls the hot air and causes the moisture to be loosened and the final product comes out as flour.
Dr Dziedzoave indicated that the processing of cassava in the country over the years had always been difficult, “but the commissioning of the equipment will go a long way to address that challenge.”
As part of the project, he said local engineers would be trained to be able to build the dryer in order to make it available across the country to help farmers.
“A major challenge, however, is how the farmers can purchase or procure the machine to assist them in their operation,” he stressed.