By Chioma Ndife
The Department of Agricultural Science Education, Federal College of Education (Technical), Umunze has organized a one day workshop on modern skills in production of high quality garri.
The Training organized at the Educational Trust Fund Centre of the institution was necessitated following the report made available to the general public by the Federal Ministry of Health which presented Anambra as the State with highest cases of poor garri production.
The workshop which was attended by over 200 participants who are mostly cassava farmers, garri processors and millers from Orumba North and South LGA of Anambra State was aimed at educating participants on the dangers of hydrocyanic acid and aflatoxins present in garri and ways of preventing them.
Fides gathered that Garri farmers were educated on the best farming practices to adopt especially as it concerns cassava farming and garri procession to reduce the rate at which Anambrians consume poisonous Garri.
In her opening speech, the Provost of the college, Dr. (Mrs) Theresa Okoli lamented the poor quality of garri processed in the state, which according to her contains very high level of cyanide and aflatoxin. She also stressed that cyanide poison has been implicated in cases of kidney problems, liver malignancy, abdominal pains, goiter and various forms of cancer.
The provost who was represented by the deputy Provost, Dr. (Mrs) Chinyere Madichie said that the agricultural programmes in the institution was to ensure support to the agricultural transformation currently on-going in the state. The ultra-modern cassava processing center at the institution, will expand the scope of knowledge of participants in practical and lucrative agriculture that will yield maximum profit at all times.
In a paper titled “steps in production of high quality garri”, the lead training officer and a lecturer in the department, Dr. Chukwudi Nwike, explained the 10 key steps involved in the production of high quality garri. He emphasized the need for people to allow grated cassava to ferment for at least 3 days before pressing and frying to ensure adequate removal of cyanide poison. He stressed the health implications of cyanide and aflatoxins, and pinpointed ways it could be avoided.
Presenting his paper titled “Environmental and sanitary conditions in a garri processing centre”, the Dean of the School, Dr. Innocent Akamobi emphasized the need for clean environment to be maintained in garri processing, saying it was a way of preventing aflatoxin contamination.
On the equipment for production of quality garri, Dr. Akamobi recommended the use of communal fryer as against the use of ordinary frying pan popularly known as agbada. He stressed that the use of communal fryer makes frying easier and less stressful.
On his part, the Anambra State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Afam Mbanefo who was represented by Ag Director, Anambra State Ministry of Agriculture, Mr.Boniface C. Nweke commended the school management for organizing the training, saying it would aid framers adopt best practices it when comes to garri procession. He opined that such training reduces the dangers which Anambrians are prone to face in the hand of Garri producers.
He described agriculture as one of the major pillars of Governor Willie Obiano's administration, calling on students and farmers to make judicious use of the opportunity provided for them at the institution to improve on their agricultural yield.
The State Project Coordinator, World Bank assisted Fadama III AF Project in Anambra, Mr Chuks Egbue was present at the training among others. The event climaxed with a facility tour to the college model cassava processing centre.