A new strategy to increase animal feed production by using cassava peels is being considered by the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board. Remy Titien Niyireba, the research assistant in animal feeds and animal nutrition at RAB told Doing Business that animal feeds from cassava peels can replace those produced from maize and soybean which are currently expensive. “We have seen that dairy cattle are going to benefit a lot. Pig and poultry farmers are also going to benefit a lot because they require a lot of maize yet maize prices increased; from Rwf200 to Rwf550,” Niyireba told Doing Business. “The wheat price increased from Rwf300 to Rwf800. So these cassava peels are alternative sources of animal feed that could cut costs up to 50 per cent and address increasing prices of animal feeds.” He said the new technology is timely considering that the cassava peels are usually thrown away as waste. According to RAB, factories that produce animal feed are operating under capacity, at 60 per cent of production capacity, due to lack of enough raw materials. Raw materials such as soybean and maize are imported. “The demand for animal feed is high but supply is low if we look at the animal feed plants with standards we have in Rwanda. As a result, the factories are not producing even 10 per cent of the animal feeds needed.” Cassava peels are rich in energy and can replace maize and wheat in making animal feeds. “We need more investors to take up this technology and produce animal feeds,” he said. Niyireba assured entrepreneurs of enough raw materials as cassava production is also increasing. Cassava is a major staple crop in Rwanda as a source of calories and income for rural households. More than 200,000 hectares are used for cassava growing in the country. Cassava is the second most grown crop after bananas in terms of cultivated area, and the fourth most consumed staple crop in Rwanda. The country produces around three million tonnes of cassava as average production. Scaling up new varieties could increase production to about eight million tonnes, per year, with improved varieties and appropriate use of fertilizers. Experts say such consumption of cassava generates a significant quantity of peels as they make 20 per cent of harvested cassava tubers. This, RAB, says means that when farmers reject cassava peels as waste, it becomes a lost resource. Currently, the government is working with scientists from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to turn such cassava peels into animal feeds. Experts are training animal feeds producers across the country on the transformation of cassava peels into high quality livestock feed to avoid shortage of affordable animal feeds. “The purpose of the training is to increase awareness on the potentiality of processing cassava peels into high quality animal feeds, and to provide the opportunity for private sector entrepreneurs to acquire the skills in transforming cassava peels into good quality livestock feed,” he said. In Rwanda only one entrepreneur has launched the project to produce animal feeds from cassava peels in Kamonyi district. Alice Nyirasagamba, the founder of Akanoze Nyamiyaga Ltd, a small cassava processing firm in Kamonyi District is changing the narrative about cassava waste by turning it into animal feed. The entrepreneur, after introduction to the High-Quality Cassava Peel (HQCP) technology developed by researchers, added a processing unit to her business. She wanted to produce and sell animal feeds from cassava peels. “We use between 12 and 15 tonnes of fresh cassava daily in the first processing unit. The waste generated is processed into animal feed ingredients in the newly constructed unit,” she said. The firm initially bought 500 kilos of peels from farmers, per day. Today, it buys more than four tonnes per day. “We have a machine that turns peels into livestock feed for poultry, cows, pigs, goats and others,” she said. Steven Edouard, an employee at LFL Rwanda Ltd, an animal feed factory in Bugesera district, equally sounded optimistic. “We have the capacity to produce 750 tonnes of animal feed from other ingredients per month. Cassava peels could help increase production. We want to double production in two years,” he said. He said that the soybean price increased from Rwf600, in 2021, to around Rwf1, 000 per kilo, triggering a rise in animal feed prices. “We are studying the potential of cassava peels and how many can be supplied for production and include them in our formula,” he said. Cassava is a major subsistence and commercial crop in sub-Saharan Africa and, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), around 178 million tonnes is produced annually. Reports indicate that transforming cassava peel into nutritious animal feed can partially replace maize in animal feed while reducing environmental pollution and minimising post-harvest losses. Researches have, for long, realised that this crop-waste by-product could be a valuable feed alternative. Cassava-growing countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, and Senegal are also trying the cassava peels for animal feeds project. In Nigeria, arguably the largest global producer of cassava, agricultural economists have conducted research indicating that the cassava peel is energy-rich and has a nutritional value close to maize. As noted, when used in animal feed it lowers costs because it reduces the amount of maize needed to make animal feed. Nigeria reportedly harvests about 59 million tonnes of cassava a year (20% of global production), resulting in about 15 million tonnes of wet peels.