As part of its initiatives to promote consistency in product quality, the Cassava: Adding Value for Africa Project (CAVA II) has organised a Pan-African Quality Management System training. The training workshop which was held in Malawi had in attendance members of staff drawn from the project’s five Country Offices: Nigeria, Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda.
The highly interactive training was facilitated by Dr Louise Abayomi, a Food Technologist from Natural Resources Institute of the University of Greenwich from the United Kingdom.
Speaking at the training, Dr Abayomi, explained that the main objective of the training was to provide knowledge and skills for members of staff of CAVAII Project,to deliver appropriate technical backstopping to cassava processors and service providers for sustaining quality of different products within the cassava value chain.
She said, “Quality Management System which is the basis for Quality Control processes in processing is a critical step towards product certification. It is imperative for all processors to have clear work flow of quality management while ensuring consumers’ safety and highest level of cleanliness along the processing.She pointed out that there is a need to promote consistency in product quality and establishment of quality management systems for cassava products by Small and Medium Enterprises and community processing groups (CPGs), adding that the participants at the workshop the participants will mentor SMEs and CPGs in their various countries, in quality management of their products.
The hands-on trainings were heldat two processing sites: Universal Farming and Milling Limited (UFML) in Chiradzulu and Chinangwa Mbatata Roots and Tubers Cooperative (CMRTC) in Zomba, Malawi. The two processing sites were selected to showcaseflash drying operations and solar drying operations to the participants; who were enlightened on critical stages for quality checks and validations, to ensure that quality control is in-built along all processes. The participants were exposed to the rudiments of efficient drying and milling operation in line with International Standard Organization (ISO) regulations, as well as HQCF packaging, warehousing and handling in conformance with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
The methodology used at the training workshop ranged from observation of processes to testing of products for chemical composition at various stages and asking questions to responsible processing staff for various sections of the product channel from the farm to the end user. The parameters tested were pH and moisture content using pH Meter and Moisture Meter as modern state of the art equipment and also the ordinary litmus test for pH.
The training established requirements for processors in solar drying and flash drying operations to establish quality management systems (QMS) that are able to track quality from the field to the final product. Results from practical tests of the fresh cassava roots for freshness through observation and pH highlighted the importance of recording observations and that decisions be made on whether to buy or reject consignment. The training also demonstrated the need for quality assurance guidelines to be displayed along the processing channel units for staff and workers for reference during processing at different stages i.e, peeling, washing, grating, pressing, drying, milling and packaging.
Rounding off the training, Dr Abayomi, emphasised on the need for end-users to check quality of cassava products before storing in warehouses and make sure that quality is not lost during storage. Dr Abayomi, however promised to embark on unscheduled follow up visits to the processing centres to ascertain level of their compliance.
The Cassava: Adding Value for Africa Project led by the federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The projects aims to increase the incomes of at least 200,000 value chain actors, especially smallholder farmers and processors in Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Malawi, by at least USD177 million in five years