Graphic Business News

How technology is changing the phase of food production - The case of the fufu making machine

By: Ama Amankwah Baafi
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An operator using the fufu machine
An operator using the fufu machine

There has been a transformation in the preparation of fufu, while efforts continue to be made to do away with the pounding to make it less labour intensive.
Fufu is a staple and delicacy among tribes in Ghana. Usually, more time is spent in preparing it with a wooden mortar and pestle to convert tubers into fufu.

The pounding of fufu has typically led to the hardening of the palms of many who find the exercise laborious.

It began with the preparation of a powder mix of tubers which reduces the preparation time.
In recent times, technology companies and technical education institutions are devising new ways of pounding fufu within a short period, while maintaining the original taste.

The fufu machine
The machine equally pounds the cassava, yam or plantain separately as it is done with the mortar and pestle, and then mixed together to obtain the desired blend.

Occasionally, water is sprinkled on the paste to soften it. Some operators said the machine had become a preferred choice for preparing fufu.

The least amount charged for pounding fufu with the machine is GH¢1 and which depends on the quantity.
A fufu machine operator at Adjiringanor in Accra, Ms Afia Kavi, said weekends were very busy periods.

“A lot of people come to use the machine during the weekend and I make about GH¢500 and about GH¢200 in the week,” she said.

Another fufu machine operator at Adabraka, Ms Mary Lartey, said, “Hitherto, chop bar operators patronised our services more, but now individual homes are also pounding fufu in the machines.” 

Whereas some chop bar operators find it convenient to use the fufu machine, others said they still pound with the mortar and pestle because their customers prefer that to the machine prepared fufu.

The GRATIS foundation, a leader in the designing, manufacturing and selling of agro food processing and sanitation equipment, has been producing fufu machine for about six years.
Initially designed wooden fufu machine (Auger type)
The Production Manager of GRATIS, Mr Patrick Quansah, said in an interview that GRATIS was motivated to develop a mechanised means to prepare fufu due to the drudgery Ghanaians went through to prepare the great delicacy.  

The first attempt, he said, was the use of a cassava grater used in making gari. After the cassava is boiled and run through the grater, it needed to go back into the mortar to be pounded again to get the fine texture.

So, GRATIS thought through it once and for all to come out with the auger type, basically, for commercial purpose.     

“The wooden type lasted for about a year. With the auger type, boiled cassava or plantain is dropped in and a pressure plate at the end squeezes it, mashes it comes out as paste. It can be run over again to suit texture preference, while intermittently sprinkling water in it,” he explained.

Maintenance
Mr Quansah said due the nature of the food, all the parts that comes into contact with the fufu is made from stainless raw material and has been designed in such a way that it can easily be dismantled and washed.

He said the cylindrical part where the auger is can also be detached and those areas can also be washed.

“Our machines are durable because all those who have bought are still using them including some restaurants and chop bars. Others are using it like a service centre where individuals within their locality send their tubers to be pounded into fufu,” he stated.
On the average, the machine costs GH₵3,000.

He disclosed that GRATIS was feverishly working on producing sizeable fufu machines (the size of a blender) for domestic use.

“That is what people are asking for because the commercial one is too bulky. Our challenge is the right kind of electric motor to drive it. We have done the designs and we are still talking to electric motor manufacturers. Once there is a breakthrough, we will do the first sample,” he said.