A TECHNICAL SURVEY OF POST HARVEST PROCESSING OPERATIONS OF CASSAVA IN EKITI STATE, SOUTH-WEST NIGERIA
Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) is a staple root crop of the tropics. It is a major source of energy in both human and livestock diets. However, cassava is highly perishable and must be converted into stable products soon after it is harvested. This study was therefore conducted to examine the present level of postharvest processing operations of cassava in Ekiti State, South-West Nigeria. The study was carried out using a Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) technique. Accordingly, twelve out of the sixteen local government areas of the State were randomly selected for the study. A purposive random sampling approach was used for selecting farmers for participation in the study. Structured questionnaires were administered to 10 cassava processors per LGA to make a total of 120 respondents for the study area. In addition, the method of Focus Group Discussion (FGD) was used to obtain information on the method and level of technologies used for post-harvest processing of cassava in the area. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics. Results show that the products of cassava processing in the study area are garri, fufu, lafun and starch. 58.3% of the cassava processors process between 500 to 2500 kg of fresh cassava tubers per day with 68.3% of the processors employing a combination of traditional and modern methods to perform their processing operations. 71.6% of the respondents use head pans to move cassava tubers from point of purchase to processing facilities. The survey revealed a near absence of mechanized processing of cassava in the study area due to lack of funds by the individual processors to acquire the necessary processing machines. Accordingly, it is recommended that cluster processing facilities should be established which would allow a processor to carry out their unit operations for a fee without necessarily owning the processing equipment.