The mechanical department of the Kumasi Vocational and Technical Institute has built a mobile cassava grater.
The innovation is meant to address the recurrence of high post-harvest losses through cassava processing.
Available statistics show that post-harvest losses in root and tubers especially yam and cassava stands between 30 to 60 per cent.
40-year-old Ama Nyamekye, a cassava farmer in Adumanu in the Adansi Municipality of the Ashanti Region is unable to carry about 40 per cent of her cassava from the farm to the house every planting season.
“I don’t have money to hire labourers to help me on my farm so I go with my children to help me. From the farm to the house is very far so we stop so many times before we get home. Even with my children, we are unable to bring everything home,” she narrates.
She sells her tubers of cassava very cheap but that could change if she should process her harvests to extend their lifetime.
The new grater is designed to help farmers like Ama Nyamekye reduce the cassava left on farms.
The innovation is quite different from those on the market because it is mobile and made from locally manufactured materials.
One of the trainee students at Kumasi Vocational and Technical Institute that built the grater, Christian Agyiri Coleman, says the grater has a knob that can be adjusted to regulate the texture of the processed cassava.
“You can use the screwdriver to adjust the knob in the container of the grater to adjust it so that the cassava can powdery at the degree you want it,” he explains.
The innovative product also comes with a stand which is released when it is time to grate then after, pushed up inside to allow it to be wheeled around.
Head of Mechanical Engineering Department of the school, Peter Clava De Lawrence, mentored and supervised the student to develop the product as part of their coursework.
He says, “The thing shouldn’t be too heavy, it should something that anyone at all can carry, especially women and children”.
The engine that sits in the grater is less energy consuming, and according to the team, with GHS 5 worth of petrol, the grater can grate five sacks of cassava.
But because of the petrol, and issues with waste management and climate change discussion in recent years, the team reveal they are still improving the innovation.
They have revealed plans to enable farmers to use waste from their farms to power the machine.
“We will in the future change the petrol engine to biogas, the farmer can use the peels of cassava to generate the power instead of spending money to buy petrol. With this, the waste will be reused,” Christian Agyiri Coleman said.
All they need is financial support to appropriately commercialise the product.
Lecturer at the mechanical engineering department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Eunice Akyereko Agyei, has suggested collaboration with the university to polish the innovation.
“At this point, it is a good start but this shouldn’t be enough for the innovators. The packaging and marketing is really important.
“Collaborations are needed to improve it better, we can even look at using solar to power it since farmers are often on the farm in the open air,” she said.
Meanwhile, in order to effectively commercialise it, manager of the Institute, Richard Addo Gyamfi, says the school will contact associations in the sector to fine-tune commercialisation plans.