Gari is a creamy-white, granular flour with a slightly fermented flavor and a slightly sour taste made from fermented, gelatinized fresh cassava tubers. Gari is widely known in Nigeria and other West African countries.
It is commonly consumed either by being soaked in cold water with sugar, coconut, roasted groundnuts, dry fish, or boiled cowpea as complements or as a paste made with hot water and eaten with vegetable sauce. When properly stored, it has a shelf-life of six months or more.
The overall potential of agroprocessing is huge. It can reduce wastage, enhance food security, improve livelihoods for low-income groups and empower women.
In sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, it is estimated that 60 per cent of the labour force finds part of its work in small scale food processing, and the majority of them are women.
The production of gari in Nigeria is dominated by women. Gari constitutes a daily meal to some 150 million people world wide. It is a popular West African food. Gari is a fine coarse granular flour of varying texture made from cassava tubers which are cleaned after harvesting, grated, water and startch squeezed out of it, left to ferment and then fried either in plam oil or without.
Types of Gari
There are different types of gari, depending on how it is processed, its grain size and the region of Africa where it is produced.
Gari Is Classifies Into:
• Extra Fine Grain Gari - where more than 80per cent of the grain passes through a sieve of less than 350 micro meter aperture
• Fine Grain Gari - More than 80per cent of the grains pass through a sieve of less than 1000 micro meter aperture
• Coarse Grain Gari - Not less than 80per cent of grains pass through a seive of 1400 micro meter or less than 20 per cent of weight passes through a seive of 1000 micro meter.
•Extra Coarse Grain Gari - Not less than 20per cent of grain is retained on a sieve of 1400 micro meter aperture.
Garri can also be classified based on fermentation length (days and extent) as well as whether palm oil is added to make it yellow or not. Such classifications include:
This is the type of gari commonly found in the Mid-Western part of Nigeria. It is also called Bendel gari. It is made exactly the way described above, but for the addition of red palm oil after grating the cassava and the gari is allowed to ferment for two to three days also. Adding palm oil to the gari further helps to reduce the cyanide content and gives it a unique flavour.
Same as Bendel gari, left to ferment for two to three days as well, but red palm oil is not added during processing.
Ijebu gari is made same way too, but allowed to ferment for up to seven days. No palm oil is added. It is also fried to become much crisped. It characteristically has a very sharp taste and less starchy. Many people from the Western part of Nigeria love this and find it great for “soaking”.
Gari is traditionally made at home in Africa. It is increasingly becoming common to produce gari in commercial quantities using mechanised means.
Made from cassava, the tubers are harvested, peeled, removing the covering, and the white pulp is grated in a garri grinding machine. Before the advent of machines, the cassava is hand grated.
The grated produce is then put into a jute sack and the sack tied. Traditionally, this is left to ferment for three to seven days depending on the type of garri being made.
This step is very important, as the fermentation process helps to reduce and detoxify the high cyanide content of cassava.
The gari-filled sacks are stacked up on each other, and a wooden board placed below and above the sacks. The wooden boards are tied together with the sacks full of the grated cassava in between. Tension is created by tightening the rope and thus allowing water to run out of the grated cassava being processed.
Usually, by day three, the grated cassava would have lost quite some water and become reasonably dried.
This step is also been by-passed with the use of machines that compress and squeeze water out of the grated cassava.
The water running out is very rich in starch. Collected into a basin and let to sediment, pure raw starch is obtained.
Packaging and storage
The product is hygroscopic (it absorbs moisture from the air) and should be packed in airtight and moisture-proof bags, especially in areas of high humidity, to prevent mold growth.
The market potential for garri is huge and stable. Why? Everyday some African or Nigerian somewhere is consuming the gari product. The market value of gari runs into billions of dollars every year.
It is believed that in Nigeria each family pays about N400 for a five-litre bucket of garri every week. Then the market potential is 22.5 million(household estimate) times N400, which equals N9 billion worth of garri being consumed every week from our open markets.