International researchers, who met in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania recently, are planning to develop a strategy and agree on a joint methodology to conduct surveys on consumers' preferences for various processed cassava products in Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania.
The meeting, which was hosted by IITA, instituted a study group which aims to get a better understanding of the variety of processed cassava products in the five countries, their quality, and consumer preferences. The study will look at the food chain, the economic viability of the products, and the gender roles in the processing of these products.
The project is funded under the Roots, Tubers and Banana (RTB) CGIAR Research Program (CRP). It is one of three case studies to be conducted to find ways to support post harvest management of roots, tubers and banana under the CRP.
Victor Manyong said the study is very relevant to the institute as cassava is a very important crop for smallholder farmers in the continent and, therefore, in its efforts toward lifting 7million farmers out of poverty as outlined in its refreshed strategy. Genevieve Fliedel, a food scientist from 'Le Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement' (CIRAD) and one of the workshop conveners, said the case study would give researchers a clearer picture of the diversity of processed cassava products in the five countries, quality characteristics, and consumer preferences.
"We will select in each country processed cassava products to analyze for gender-based sensory profile and consumer acceptability. This, in turn, will help the post-harvest work to ensure the products developed meet consumer preferences and are acceptable," she said.
Abass Adebayo, IITA's value chain specialist, says the product to be pretested in Tanzania would be cassava flour to support the government's efforts in promoting the use of composite flour in making 'ugali', an important meal in many parts of East Africa. "We have wanted to conduct this kind of study for a long time to get data to support the government's desire to promote the blending of maize flour to create demand for cassava flour. This, in turn, will drive the production of cassava, create jobs through processing, and contribute to food security and reducing unemployment and poverty especially in the rural areas," Adebayo said.
Organizations involved in the case studies are IITA, CIAT, CIRAD, Natural Resource Institute (NRI), and the national research partners in the five countries.*