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Cassava chips are unfermented white dried products of cassava with an average diameter of 3mm – 5mm often used as a carbohydrate base in the animal feed industry particularly in Europe, or milled into flour for other uses such as in the production of ethanol, cakes, dough-nut and biscuits.
As against the traditional, inefficient method associated with cassava processing into dried whole roots which are usually characterized with undesirable colour, irregular shapes and often contaminations with moulds. Research development by the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO) has led to successful development of a process technology for converting freshly harvested cassava into dried cassava chips having at least 18 months shelf life, containing cyanogenic glucosides within the permitted safe limits suitable for export and other uses
The production process comprises of simple operations involving simple equipment.
The essential operations are as follows.
Sorting and Weighing
The harvested cassava roots are sorted to select wholesome roots, as well as, to remove immature roots and foreign materials before weighing.
Washing and Peeling
The cassava roots are washed in potable water to remove adhering sand. They are then manually peeled with knives and washed again to further remove sand and other dirt.
The washed, peeled cassava roots are fed into a cassava chipping machine fabricated in the Institute to obtain chips of regular sizes and shapes. Alternatively the tubers can be manually cut into round chips of uniform sizes.
The wet chips are spread in stainless steel trays in a cabinet dryer at predetermined temperature and dried to a low moisture level.
To produce good quality chips the roots must be sliced and dried as quickly as possible after harvest. The chips should be turned periodically in the drying period, usually two or three sunny days. The chips are considered dry when they are easily broken but too hard to be crumbled by hand. The thickness of the slices also has an effect on the quality of chips. Thick slices may appear dry on the surface when their internal moisture content is still high.
The dried chips are allowed to cool naturally to room temperature prior to packaging.
The cooled, dried chips are vacuum packaged in high density polyethylene bags or in polypropylene bags lined with high density polyethylene bags.
Machinery and equipment
The equipment required are:
Source: Federal Institute Of industrial research Oshodi (FIIRO)
Investment potential of Cassava chips
The demand for cassava chips and pellets is worldwide. The first large scale commercial user of cassava chips as a livestock farmers of the United Kingdom; the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), Netherlands and France. The products are also widely demanded in Taiwan, Asia and USA.
The demand locally has been on an increase and also very encouraging. The demand for cassava chips and pellets is well over 10 million metric tonnes annually. Supply of the product on the other hand is inadequate and falls short of the above demand figure.
This is because there are very few companies producing these products in Nigeria and world-wide presently. Precisely, supply of cassava chips and pellets is just 30 per cent of the total demand. In 2009 ending, a shortfall in the supply of 10.5 million tonnes existed and this increased to 12.6 million as at mid-2010.
The figure has doubled in the year 2012 and bound to increase further as demand increases everyday all over the world.
The demand for cassava chips/pellets is intensified in Nigeria as a result of the Government directive to Flour Millers of increasing the application of cassava flour from 10 per cent to 20 per cent, and cassava chips/pellets is the main raw materials for producing of cassava flour. These facts show that there is a huge investment opportunity that is yet to be fully maximized.
The figures presented above is credited to Federal Institute Of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO)
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 Curtsey of Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, FIIRO, material on Mechanized cassava Chips production.