New Innovations Boost Shelf Life of Cassava

4343 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
The two innovations waxing and high relative humidity storage are the handiwork of National Agricultural Research Organisation NARO.

Two innovative ways of preserving cassava could revolutionize the way the foodstuff is distributed countrywide and exported.
The two innovations - waxing and high relative humidity storage - are the handiwork of National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO).
Non-preserved cassava takes between 24 and 48 hours before starting to rot. This explains why cassava tubers are expensive because traders shift the losses to buyers by setting higher prices.
Speaking in an interview with Uganda Radio Network, Dr Harriet Muyinza, Senior Research Officer with NARO says typically 40 percent of fresh cassava gets spoiled due to the high perishable rate.
Commenting the waxing technique, which can preserve fresh cassava tubers for a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of 60 days, Dr Muyinza says the technique is now ready for adoption by farmers and traders.
Dr Muyinza says the procedure of waxing cassava is simple even for ordinary farmers.
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The recommended fungicides, disinfectants and wax are available on the market.
The second technique - using high relative humidity storage - is much simpler as it requires storing the disinfected cassava tubers in air-tight polythene bags.
According to Dr Muyinza, the high relative humidity technique has the potential of preserving cassava tubers for up to 30 days.
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Dr Muyinza says their research found out that after the 30 or so days the cassava still tasted as fresh, meaning the techniques are effective within the preservation periods.
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Dr Muyinza says the new techniques have the potential of improving distribution and redistribution of cassava in the country as well as exports.
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Dr Moses Matovu, another NARO researcher on the techniques, says farmers need to adopt pruning cassava one week before harvesting. This helps in hardening the skins of tubers so they don't get damaged easily.
In order to effectively disinfect and wax the tubers they need not to have damages so the chemicals and the wax don't penetrate the tuber. Cassava tuber has two skins - the outer and the inner.
On whether the chemicals and wax used pose dangers to humans, Dr Matovu says they do not, adding that they are also used in preserving tomatoes and apples, among others.


About the author

David Rupiny
In his own words, David Rupiny says, "I am literally a self-trained journalist with over 12 years of experience. Add the formative, student days then I can trace my journalism roots to 1988 when as a fresher in Ordinary Level I used to report for The Giraffe News at St Aloysius College Nyapea in northern Uganda.

In addition to URN for which I have worked for five years now, I have had stints at Radio Paidha, Radio Pacis, Nile FM and KFM. I have also contributed stories for The Crusader, The New Vision and The Monitor. I have also been a contributor for international news organisations like the BBC and Institute for War and Peace Reporting. I am also a local stringer for Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

I am also a media entrepreneur. I founded The West Niler newspaper and now runs Rainbow Media Corporation (Rainbow Radio 88.2 FM in Nebbi). My areas of interest are conflict and peacebuilding, business, climate change, health and children and young people, among others."