Gari: mechanization to improve sales
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CTA. 1991. Gari: mechanization to improve sales. Spore 35. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/45589
Gari is the dry, toasted flour produced from cassava after laborious processing. In this form i tis a convenience food which is particularly popular in Togo and neighbouring countries. None the less gari is not profitable for the women who make it....
Gari is the dry, toasted flour produced from cassava after laborious processing. In this form i tis a convenience food which is particularly popular in Togo and neighbouring countries. None the less gari is not profitable for the women who make it. Mechanization of some of the process would make their job easier and would ensure a better product market. 'We're obliged to sell to the traders in order to pay the growers who supply us with cassava and insist on cash payment. But without these traders we wouldn't have the money for our own needs,'saythewomenwhoproducegafi. They usually sell their product to the traders who travel the length and breadth of the interior buying bags of gari which they then retail. But these trading women set their own price levels which are barely profitable for the producers. Only those producers who have easy access to a market can retail their own gari and make a profit. Some of the women producers from a number of districts have got together to form associations to look after their interests. This has resulted in shops being built in many of the villagers to facilitate the marketing of gari. In spite of all this, however, there are still difficulties in ensuring a regular level of sales. Gari is plentiful between March and September and, during this period, even the highest quality does not fetch more than 100CFA/kg, while five kilogrammes of cassava at 10-15CFA are required for every kilo of gari, so it is obvious that the work is barely profitable. But in the dry season, when the ground is hard and the cassava roots are difficult to extract, gari becomes more scarce, the price doubles to 200CFA, and the whole operation becomes economically viable. If production could be set on a more regular footing, then both producers and traders would be pleased. However, processing by the traditional method can only be done on a very small scale. The work is laborious and, if done manually through all the stages, very tiring. Cassava roots are peeled with a knife and washed, then grated on a metal grater. The product is then stored in sacks and allowed to ferment for three days. It is then pressed by large stones, broken up, and the fibres removed; after that it is sieved and cooked. In all, there are nine stages and long hours of work. If they work non-stop for a week, the women can make up to 60kg of gari. Once it is processed into flour, cassava will keep for months or even years if simple precautions are taken. However, it is difficult to build up stocks while fresh cassava is cheap because, after putting some aside for family use, the rest has to be sold to pay the growers. The Institut National des Plantes a Tubercules (National Tuber Institute) has been trying for some years to perfect small machines which could be made locally and which would both simplify and speed up the manufacture of gafi. After tests at INPT, sieves, graters and presses have been handed over to some of the women's associations. Else where a complete cassava-processing production line on a semi-industrial scale, designed by the Centre d'Etudes et d'Experimentation Agricole Tropical (CEEMAT) and the French company Gauthier, is now at the evaluation stage. The more sophisticated the equipment, however, the more expensive it is, and the current low price of gari does not make it an economically viable proposition. There are financial constrains even with small, locally made equipment. Women are reluctant to use this grating machines setup in some villages because what they have to pay for their use must be set against their often meagre earnings. INPT is well aware of this problems and is seeking to help women make more profit from their work. More regular and plentiful production would mean that export markets, in neighbouring countries or in Europe, could be tested out. At present one French company buys two tones of gari per month which sales easily in Paris and university towns where many expatriate African students are delighted to find a taste of home.