Learning about gari processing from Ghana, would also enable the Zambian government to introduce the gari meal as part of the menu for children of the School Feeding Programme in that country.
Mr Charles Mulombwa, Value Chain Development Specialist of the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission in Zambia who was part of the seven-member delegation on a 10-day trade mission in Ghana, disclosed this to the GNA on the side-line of a visit to the Food Research Institute (FRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Accra.
He said the Zambian Government was piloting gari processing among 500 women-groups in Zambia and will later scale up production to all the country.
Gari is a cassava root, dried and grounded into flour and used to prepare meals that serve as a cheaper carbohydrate source for most people in Sub-Sahara Africa.
It is a creamy-white granular flour with slightly fermented flavour and sour slightly taste made from fermented, gelatinized fresh cassava tubers that are washed, peeled, mashed, fermented and fried to produce the coarse-grained product.
Ms Kayula Siame, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Republic of Zambia, who is leading the Zambian delegation, paid a working visit to the FRI to interact with the scientists and learn how the Institute was helping to develop Ghana’s cassava production sector.
Ms Siame described the visit to Ghana as very important to her country, offering the delegation, the opportunity to interact and learn better experiences in Ghana’s industrialisation processes.
She said the trade delegation programme, fall within a project being run under Zambia’s Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, which was hosting a skill development and entrepreneurship project under its Citizens Empowerment Commission for the women and the youth in Zambia.
“This project has in it, a very key aspect which relates to the commercialisation of cassava as well as supporting SMEs and developing industry.
“So we are here in Ghana to learn some of the lessons that we can get from the country in terms of how you have commercialise cassava, how you have supported SMES, and how it has helped the country in contributing to food security” Ms Siame said.
She explained that the delegation was visiting a number of institutions, agencies and government Ministries that were in one way, or the other, linked with the commercialisation of the cassava value chain.
She said her team would be very glad to learn from the research institutions like the FRI and to learn about cassava industrialisation and other supporting tools that were required to make cassava a commercial crop in Zambia.
Professor Mrs Mary Obodai, Director of Food Research Institute, commended the delegation for coming down to Ghana to learn about the way science was being used to promote cassava production that had become the staple food for more than 200 million people in Africa.
She said Ghana was fortunate to have a long science tradition, which was best represented by the history of CSIR and its 13 institutes that continued to contribute to the scientific and technological advancement of the nation and beyond.
She expressed FRI’s readiness to assist Zambia to improve on their cassava stock and commercialise it as well.
Mr Gregory Afra Komlaga, Senior Research Scientist of CSIR-FRI, in a presentation on cassava production in Ghana, said Ghana was ranked number 17th in global cassava production, producing 17 million tonnes annually, and contributing 22 per cent to GDP.
Neighbouring Nigeria is ranked first on the global ladder, producing about 60 million tonnes of cassava yearly.
He said cassava was a very important crop in sub-Saharan Africa and that every home in Ghana consumes cassava at least once every week.
He said Ghana through some national programmes, have developed most of its cassava as sweet varieties that were cultivated for domestic uses, including fufu, banku, gari, ampesi (cooked cassava) and kokonte; as well as other yields that were cultivated for commercial uses.
He said FRI through the support of some universities and other sister research institutes, was able to develop technologies for processing cassava into industry products, and have encouraged industries in Ghana to take up the technologies like high quality cassava flour, that were used to do pastry products, and for the brewery industry, and in the plywood industry.
He urged the delegation to take opportunity of the knowledge available in Ghana, and get their people trained so they could improve on the cassava value-chain in Zambia, as being done in Ghana.