Cassava, Africa’s Cash Crop for Food Security

,,Cassava is everywhere in sub-Saharan Africa, and has significant potential to develop food security in Africa.

Agriculture is essential for Africa’s growth and for achieving the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty by next year.

Although cassava has yet to receive the same degree of attention and research as maize, rice and wheat, the starchy staple crop is critical to sub-Sahara Africa’s food security. Today, the world is starting to comprehend its nutritional value and there is hope that cassava can transform into an African cash crop.

An interesting fact that I’m sure most of you were not aware of, the most crop produced in Africa is cassava. Mostly produced my small farmers, cassava needs to be left in the ground between 7 months and 2 years before starting the planting phase followed by the harvesting phase.

Advantages of cassava crops:

  1. Easy to grow in poor soils;
  2. Needs few inputs;
  3. Good carbohydrate source;
  4. Cheaper food source

Disadvantages of cassava:

  1. Improperly treated roots
  2. Leaves can contain cyanide, causing health issues for malnourished people

However, new varieties are now addressing some of these defects. 3 new vitamin A-enriched cassava varieties, known as UMUCASS 36, 37, and 38 will have a significant impact on the widespread problem of vitamin A deficiency in large populations who rely on cassava in their daily diet.

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