Effectiveness of traditional processing techniques in reducing cyanide levels in selected cassava varieties in Zombo District, Uganda.
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The root tubers of cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) contain varying amounts of cyanogenic glucosides which liberate toxic hydrogen cyanide with the resultant effect of poisoning especially the highly cyanogenic cultivars. These include some of the local and improved cassava varieties grown in Zombo district, Uganda among others. Therefore, this study explored the effectiveness of some traditional processing techniques used singly and in combination to reduce cyanide levels in highly toxic root tubers of selected local (Nyar-anderiano, Nyar-papoga, Nyar-udota, Nyar-pamitu, Bisimwenge, Nyar-matia) and improved (NASE 3, NASE 9, NASE 14, NASE 19, TME 14 and TME 204) cassava varieties grown in Zombo District, Uganda. The processed and the fresh cassava tubers were analysed for Hydrogen cyanide (HCN) by the standard titration method. The results indicated that heap fermentation followed by sun-drying reduced the cyanide levels in all the selected improved varieties to WHO safe levels for consumption (below 10mg/kg) in the dried chips. Mixed processing methods combining soaking, fermentation and sun-drying reduced the cyanide concentrations in the local varieties (Nyar-udota, Nyaranderiano) and improved variety (NASE 19) to World Health Organisation (WHO) safe levels. None of the processing techniques used singly reduced the HCN levels in the root tubers of the selected cassava varieties to safe levels. Hence mixed strategies combining several traditional cassava processing techniques should be adopted to detoxify the selected cassava varieties of cyanogens. The local cassava varieties (Bisimwenge, Nya-matia, Nya-pamitu, Nya-papoga) would require modifications of the combined traditional processing techniques or other more complex processes to detoxify them of HCN before human consumption.
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