Novosibirsk State University Scientists and Thai Colleagues Identify Environmentally Friendly and Efficient Methods for Processing Cassava Raw Material Wastes

The NSU Food Security Research Center, together with colleagues from the Center for Advanced Waste Disposal Technologies and Management at the King Mongkut University of Technology Tongburi (KMUTT) in Thailand, evaluated the most promising uses and ways to process cassava raw material waste. This material is an important component of Thailand's export potential. The results of the study were published in the international scientific publication «WasteManagement & Research».

Cassava, edible manihot esculenta, is a type of species from the Euphorbiaceae family, an important edible root crop from tropical plants.

Julia Otmakhova , Head of the NSU Food Security Research Center talked about the economics of cassava:

– The rapid growth in industrial production of cassava starch contributes to increased revenues from its sales, but at the same time leads to an increasing amount of waste and a significant increase in environmental risks, especially in Thailand because it has a hot and humid climate. Thailand is the largest exporter of high-quality natural cassava starch in the world with a 70% market share.

The study is an interdisciplinary scientific project to ensure global food security and waste management. NSU scientists, together with Thai colleagues, collected and analyzed data in questionnaires from over 60 factories in Thailand that produce cassava starch for export.

The article presents the results of the economic and environmental assessment of alternatives to the utilization of solid wastes from the production of natural cassava starch, specifically the results of comparing the two options for deriving added value for waste: the production of fermented animal feeds and the production of plant substrates for growing mushrooms.

According to Otmakhova, both types of products are currently in demand in the Thai market. In Thailand more than 3 million households are engaged in livestock production and fermented foods rich in protein increase the nutritional value for animals and at the same time reduce feed costs. The production of mushrooms in Thailand in 2015 amounted to almost 19 million tons with an economic value of 20.5 million US dollars. The study authors noted that the results obtained that were presented in the article can be useful for decision making by investors and politicians.

A year ago, NSU and KMUTT signed a Memorandum of Understanding during an official visit by the Thai delegation. NSU was the first Russian university to develop a partnership with the Thai Technical University.

The NSU Food Security Research Center was established at NSU in 2015. The Center specializes in interdisciplinary scientific research in the field of food security: identifying the primary biological origin of food, developing technologies to identify fake products, developing new methods of «smart genetics» for generating new varieties of wheat and other cultivated plants, establishing a new paradigm for economic analysis of the food market and applied economic modeling in the field of food security. Among the Center’s important tasks are to search for new and relevant research areas for integrated projects for Novosibirsk State University specialists, the Novosibirsk Scientific Center and scientists from Southeast Asia and analyzing promising technologies and products that can provide the basis for developing cooperation in the «Eastern Vector». In addition, the Center provides consulting and expertise in the field of food security for Russian federal and municipal customers, as well as international government clients and private Russian companies.