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Waxing of fresh cassava roots to extend the shelf-life and increase marketability

Extend shelf-life of fresh cassava

The waxing technology for fresh cassava roots is a comprehensive process that begins right from the field. It involves careful cultivation practices to produce roots that are commercially acceptable in terms of size, shape, and appearance. Prior to harvesting, the leaves of the cassava plants are pruned to avoid mechanical damage. Post-harvest, the roots are transported to a pack-house where they undergo a series of steps including sorting, washing, weighing, and disinfection with an approved fungicide and surfactant. The roots are then dried and a heated food-grade wax is applied.

This technology is TAAT1 validated.

7•7

Scaling readiness: idea maturity 7/9; level of use 7/9

126 USD/ton

total cost for waxing

32 %

Marginal rate of return when compared to unwaxed roots.

3,000—5,000 USD

Estimated investment cost for an “all-inclusive” packhouse or processing centre, including water supply

IP

Open source / open access

Problem

  • Rapid Deterioration: Fresh cassava roots undergo rapid postharvest physiological deterioration (PPD), usually within two days of harvest. This rapid deterioration leads to a short marketing period and discounted prices, resulting in income losses for growers and traders.
  • Limited Shelf-life: The shelf-life of fresh cassava roots is typically very short. This leads to significant postharvest losses for farmers, transporters, and traders, and limits the consumption of cassava.
  • Marketability Issues: The marketability of fresh cassava roots is often compromised due to their size, shape, and appearance. Additionally, damages or injuries to the roots during harvesting can further reduce their marketability and shelf-life.
  • Food Security Concerns: The short shelf-life of fresh cassava roots poses a challenge to food security, as it limits the availability of the roots for consumption over a longer period.

Solution

  • Preservation: The waxing process slows down the physiological deterioration of cassava roots, preserving their freshness for an extended period.
  • Protection: The wax forms a protective layer around the cassava roots, shielding them from physical damages during transportation and handling, thereby improving their marketability.
  • Extension of Shelf-life: The technology significantly extends the shelf-life of cassava roots, from a typical two days to about 14 days or more.
  • Food Security: By extending the shelf-life, the technology ensures the availability of cassava roots for a longer period, contributing to food security.
  • Safe for Consumption: The wax used in the process is safe and approved for use in the country of operation, ensuring that the eating quality and safety of cassava roots are not compromised.

Key points to design your business plan

For Farmers: 

To implement the waxing of cassava roots in a farm in Africa, an individual farmer needs to consider the following key steps:

  1. Investment: The estimated investment cost for an “all-inclusive” packhouse or processing centre, including water supply, is $3,000-5,000. This investment cost includes the costs of the basic tools such as waxing basket ($42), waxing pot ($85), gas cylinder ($25), gas refill ($17), grill ($8), gas burner ($8) which are affordable to smallholders.

  2. Materials: The wax ($12.5/ton roots) and the preservative (Thiabendazole, if needed and if approved by the food regulatory authority) are locally available in many countries. The total cost of waxing is $126/ton (all expenses).

  3. Packhouse Construction: A well-constructed packhouse is required to apply the technology. A packhouse is a physical structure where fresh cassava roots are consolidated and subjected to the shelf-life extension treatment(s) prior to distribution to markets outlets.

  4. Packhouse Operations: The activities in a packhouse include weighing, sorting and grading, washing, disinfecting, drying, waxing, packing in crates and loading into a distribution vehicle for marketing. These activities constitute a packhouse operation.

  5. Training: Training is necessary to understand the entire process from field preparation to post-harvest handling. The training typically covers agronomic practices, post-harvest handling, and specific waxing and storage technologies. It’s important to seek out and participate in these training programs to ensure the successful implementation of the waxing process.

  6. Expansion: A packhouse may be simple or modern that involves more advanced operations and facilities. An individual farmer, smallholder farmers’ groups, cooperatives or trader can invest in a simple packhouse. As the business expands and operators gain skills, they can improve, expand or upgrade or build a new modern packhouse depending on the availability of space and financial resources.

Remember, implementing this process requires careful planning and execution, and adherence to the recommended practices to ensure the quality and safety of the cassava roots.

More

Positive or neutral impact

Adults 18 and over
Positive high
The poor
Positive medium
Under 18
Positive low
Women
Positive medium

Positive or neutral impact

Climate adaptability
It adapts really well
Adaptability for farmers
It helps a lot
Biodiversity
It doesn't hurt them
Carbon footprint
It doesn't reduce emissions at all
Environment
It makes a big difference
Soil quality
It doesn't harm the soil's health and fertility
Water usage
It uses the same amount of water

Countries with a green colour
Tested & adopted
Countries with a bright green colour
Adopted
Countries with a yellow colour
Tested
Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia Algeria Angola Benin Botswana Burundi Burkina Faso Democratic Republic of the Congo Djibouti Côte d’Ivoire Eritrea Gabon Gambia Ghana Guinea Guinea-Bissau Cameroon Kenya Libya Liberia Madagascar Mali Malawi Morocco Mauritania Mozambique Namibia Niger Nigeria Republic of the Congo Rwanda Zambia Senegal Sierra Leone Zimbabwe Somalia South Sudan Sudan South Africa Eswatini Tanzania Togo Tunisia Chad Uganda Western Sahara Central African Republic Lesotho
Countries where the technology has been tested and adopted
Country Tested Adopted
Tanzania Tested Adopted
Uganda Tested Adopted

This technology can be used in the colored agro-ecological zones. Any zones shown in white are not suitable for this technology.

Agro-ecological zones where this technology can be used
AEZ Subtropic - warm Subtropic - cool Tropic - warm Tropic - cool
Arid
Semiarid
Subhumid
Humid

Source: HarvestChoice/IFPRI 2009

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that are applicable to this technology.

Sustainable Development Goal 2: zero hunger
Goal 2: zero hunger
Sustainable Development Goal 8: decent work and economic growth
Goal 8: decent work and economic growth

The process of using the waxing technology for fresh cassava roots involves several steps:

  1. Field Preparation and Cultivation: The process starts with careful cultivation practices to produce roots that are commercially acceptable in terms of size, shape, and appearance.

  2. Pruning: Prior to harvesting, the leaves of the cassava plants are pruned 6-7 days before to avoid mechanical damage.

  3. Harvesting: The roots are carefully harvested to minimize damage.

  4. Transportation to Pack-house: The harvested roots are carefully transported to a pack-house.

  5. Sorting and Washing: At the pack-house, the roots undergo sorting and washing.

  6. Weighing and Disinfection: The roots are then weighed and disinfected with an approved fungicide and surfactant.

  7. Drying: After disinfection, the roots are dried.

  8. Waxing: Finally, the roots are waxed using heated food-grade wax.

This process extends the shelf-life of cassava roots to about 14 days or more, enhances their marketability, and reduces post-harvest losses.

Last updated on 22 May 2024