Cassava (Maniot esculenta)
a woody shrub cultivated for its edible, starchy, tuberous root — is a major staple in Nigeria, the world’s largest producer of the crop. Nigeria presently has 5 functioning Cassava Starch factories with combined annual production capacity of 35,000 Metric Ton Per Annum (MTPA). The crop is drought tolerant and rich in carbohydrate, it is also a lifeline to the country’s 30 million smallholder farmers. But the root’s exceptionally short shelf-life means that more than 40% of its yield is lost before it is processed and the effluent discharge (Cassava Starch Pulp) of about 200,000MTPA is channeled to the environment and streams within the host communities (FMITI, 2018).
The effluent discharge from these factories is negatively affecting both the flora and fauna on its path. This is due to the deformation of the top soil, increased acidity, cyanogen and foul odour of surface water. This research work will study the potentials of Euglena gracilis var. saccharophila as a bioreactor to convert the effluent waste to protein and other metabolites that can be useful as food ingredients and use the cassava pulp as pellet biomass in order to reduce the carbon footprint of the Nigerian Cassava Starch Industry. The dewatered pulp is dried to 20-30 % moisture content with the aid of a rotary dryer. The dried pulp and peels is then mixed with sawdust and pelletized biomass will serve as feedstock for the biomass boiler to generate steam.
- There is a nexus between ecology and prosperity. By converting waste to wealth and substantial value addition in the Nigerian cassava starch industry, profitability and sustainability will be improved. The potential of Euglena gracilis var saccharophila as a bioreactor for the conversion of Cassava Starch pulp biomass to protein will ensure four specific application areas of focus are covered by this study, namely:
- Waste Stream Repurposing: euglena can consume organic waste streams as a feedstock, which they then metabolize into high quality proteins.
- Food Enrichment: the proteins can then be included in starch-heavy foods like garri and high quality cassava flour for a full-cycle bio-fortification story.
- Biomass boiler will be used to generate steam for the drying process within the factory.
- Reduced water waste by 75%.