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Cassava Starch as an intermediate solution to farmers and plastic production.

Our idea involves working with Nigerian cassava farmers for the production of starch as input to the production of compostable plastics.

Photo of Izegbuwa
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Our idea is firstly to reduce post harvest losses among cassava farmers through on-site processing of cassava into starch as soon as they harvested, resulting in increased revenue generation and wealth creation for the farmers. Secondly the cassava starch will be used as an input into the production of compostable bags to reduce plastic pollution in the environment. Cassava is a vital subsistence crop for small scale farmers with increasing importance on regional and global levels. However commercial utilization of cassava are affected by its short shelf life. Majority of Nigerian farmers lack mechanized means for improving the yield of their products. As such, high levels of post-harvest losses are experienced.. Research shows that while the average cassava yield is 25 tonnes per hectare Nigerian farmers are getting between 5 and 10 tonnes per hectare To address this, we will operate a mobile processing plant that can be moved from farm to farm. Processing will be done on site, at the point of harvesting of the cassava roots. Intermediate products will be derived from this method, with an elongated shelf life beyond the standard 72 hours. By this mobile plant approach, we will increase the usability, of cassava. The second part of the project is the usage of cassava starch in plastic production companies to encourage the production of biodegradable plastic products. Plastics are major sources of pollution in Nigeria and our solution is the production of compostable bags as the alternative. Compostable bags are made of cassava starch and plant based inks.The bags are safe for insects and animals to eat.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The beneficiaries are: 1) Small scale farmers will benefit through the reduction of their post harvest losses and resultant increased revenue. Research shows that while the average cassava yield is 25 tonnes per hectare Nigerian farmers are getting between 5 and 10 tonnes per hectareThe Food and Agriculture organization have estimated that post-harvest losses range from 30-60% and extending the shelf life of cassava by about 2-3 weeks would translate into a reduction in financial losses by about $2.9billion in Nigeria over a 20 year period. 2) Plastic manufacturers and the entire community: The ‘Pure Water’ business that utilizes plastic sachets in Nigeria generates tonnes of waste. Blocked drains, gutters and canals that emit foul odor have continued to be a regular feature of Lagos metropolis. Most parts of the sprawling city are flooded during rainy season due to these blockages. Our solution will help address the problem of plastic pollution particularly

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Experts emphasize the three R’s of waste management – reduce, reuse, and recycle. The Lagos State governments initiated the recycling of waste to wealth and buy-back waste programme where people can make money from waste items that usually litter the streets of Lagos. But though recycling is an internationally acclaimed procedure for waste management, it is still a process that converts plastic to plastic. Our approach is unique because it practices Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) where companies substitute non-reusable and non-recyclable products with new systems that ensure pollution prevention instead of end-of-pipe waste management. While implementing the 3R’s of waste management (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) will require major lifestyle changes, making available compostable bags will ensure we meet people at their current level of operation rather than enforcing a significant behavioural shift which could take a long time in a country like Nigeria.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Learnine is a start up that seeks to address problems along the agricultural and economic value chain in Nigeria.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered company.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

I am a food technologist and have considerable experience in food manufacturing and processing. Post harvest losses in Nigeria are a big issue which can be curbed through proper know how and application of relevant technologies. As i have always had a passion for reduction in wastage in the agricultural sector, i believe this is a good fit with my goals.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Prosperity has been impacted by lack of access to the right partners, technological know-how and mechanized means of improvement. Planet has been affected by lack of exposure, limited information and correct processing solutions

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

We have already conducted research work with representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and will continue to work with them as we liaise with farmers and stakeholders in the community.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Our community has a large number of small scale farmers Lagos State hosts over 2000 bottled and sachet water manufacturing and distribution companies. Our community also has strong farmer and manufactunig networks know as cooperatives, from where information can easily be dispensed and the cooperation of individual farmers and manufactures can be secured.

Geographic Focus

The idea targets Nigerians, specifically those living in the South West.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The project idea requires 24 months.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ashley Tillman

Hi Izegbuwa great to have you in the Challenge. I'm exciting to learn more about your idea. Are you building the mobile processing plant or is this something that already exists? I might have missed this but then will you process the starch or do you sell it to someone else to process? Looking forward to learning more about your model.

Jaskeerat Bedi and bikash gurung for any other thoughts and questions

Photo of Izegbuwa

Hello Ashley
Thank you for reaching out.
The mobile processing plant will be set up on the cassava farm site. It does not currently exist but will be set up on commencement of the project.
The idea is to process the cassava immediately upon harvest before deterioration sets in, hence the set up of the mobile plant on the farm. We will be doing the processing of cassava root into cassava starch ourselves, which we will then trade as input to manufacturers of plastics and similar production companies.

I will be happy to answer any other questions incase you need further clarification
Thank you

Photo of bikash gurung

Thanks Ashley Tillman for connecting. Its a great idea and great initiative. Ashley, If I get your question right " Are you building the mobile processing plant or is this something that already exists? ", I think its already been existing [developed ]..found this who have been working on mobile cassava processing factory in Sub Saharan African. I am particularly interested in understanding the need of raw materials for manufacturers of plastics and similar production companies, in what scale it can fulfill the demand? What's the value farmers will get in return after the sell cassava starch ? Say $200 from per hectare per harvesting. How much does it cost for you to step up this mobile processing plant on the farm? From my understanding, it's always difficult to reach out larger masses with product like this, how are going to overcome this and reach out to larger farmer group in Nigeria? Looking forward to learn more.

Photo of Izegbuwa

Hello Bikash.
Thank you for your response.
High Quality Cassava Starch (HQCF) has a lot of uses in Nigeria including the paperboard industries, petroleum industries, bakeries and biscuit companies. We are focusing on use in plastic production in order to address the ongoing challenge with plastics which is of core concern in Nigeria.

The capacity of our projected mobile plant is 25,000 tons of HQCF per annum
About 5,000 small holder farmers in Nigeria can deliver 60,000 tons of fresh cassava roots annually, which would give a yield of 15,000 tons of HQCF per annum .
The average cost of High Quality Cassava flour is US$0.53/kg.

The projected capacity of our mobile plant is 25,000 tons of HQCF per annum. So if we operate at full capacity, annual returns would be $13.25m. We would purchase cassava roots from farmers at N120,000 ($388) per tonne. At this volume, we would be supporting the livelihood of about 2,000 farmers each year.

Below is a rough breakdown of the set up cost for the mobile processing plant in Nigerian Naira :
Mobile equipment 21,550,000
Building equipment 605,000
Operating expenses 16,000,000
Direct Costs 8,750,000
Payroll 3,120,000

Total cost (Year 1) N50,025,000 (At an exchange rate of 355Nigerian Naira to 1 dollar, this is 140,915 US dollars)

Concerning reaching out to larger masses, we will be working with farmer cooperatives to reach the farmer groups. We have already begun collaboration with representatives from the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture on this.

Thank you

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