Ghana can in the near future assess the emerging gluten-free market in Asia to market its cassava flour, Prof Keith Tomlins, Coordinator of the GRATITUDE project said on Thursday.
Because many people react to food products that contain gluten, which leads to Celiac disease, cassava flour which is gluten free is now emerging as a substitute in Asia’s gluten free market.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide.
Speaking at the final dissemination meeting of the GRATITUDE project in Accra, the coordinator of the project, Prof Keith Tomlins said the emerging gluten free market was estimated at half a billion dollar.
He lauded the project which looked at the value chain from the waste point of view and urged policy makers to buy into the idea.
The project is funded by the European Union (EU) in Ghana and United Kingdom research institutions, to cut post-harvest losses of yams, estimated at 60 per cent globally.
Through the GRATITUDE project, the EU is funding the efforts of the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research -Food Research Institute (FRI) and Natural Resources Institute (NRI) of University of Greenwich UK, on making gains from losses of roots and tubers like yam and cassava.
The project is also aimed at reducing these losses to enhance the role yam plays in food and income security, through value-added processing to reduce physical and economic losses.
Nana Osei Bonsu Board chairman of the FRI said cassava and yam are the cornerstones of the Ghanaian diet and improving on its shelf life was very appropriate.
According to him research that seeks to enrich livelihoods should be embraced and noted that, “from today we will create the markets to promote what the FRI has done and is sitting on the shelves”.
Dr Mamaa Entua Mensah, the Deputy Director General of the CSIR, who chaired the event, also lauded the idea of turning waste into profit by using the waste in mushroom production and called for fruitful deliberation from stakeholders.
The meeting was attended by Agriculture extension officers, mushroom experts, yam producers and exporters and the project leaders from Ghana, Nigeria, Portugal and the Netherlands.
The GRATITUDE project has made gains from losses of roots and tubers like yam and cassava and transferred knowledge to stakeholders.
The objective of the project is to improve the post-harvest management of cassava and yam, leading to reduced physical losses and economic losses through value-added processing and valorization of waste.
It is to improve utilization of wastes (peels, liquid waste, spent brewery waste) to produce for human consumption, which include snacks, food, mushroom and animal feed.
The reduction of these identified losses and the transformation of roots and tubers into various forms for food, feed and industrial raw material has the potential to enhance the role that these crops play in income security, create additional value in rural setting, generate income and employment and develop a more favorable balance of trade.
Cassava and yam only differ in terms of their sale as fresh produce, storage and its processing. Therefore the key approach is to address both technical and socio-economic aspect by developing entrepreneurial capabilities of small and medium scale enterprises to manage the output (produce), explore market potential and managing their profit in order to offer the potential of improving their livelihood, which can contribute to rural development and poverty reduction.
Demonstration activities with farmers through Non-Governmental Organizations, Small and Medium Enterprises and other relevant stakeholders in the Agriculture food chain will be carried for replication purposes