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African Crop Science Journal
African Crop Science Society
ISSN: 1021-9730
EISSN: 2072-6589
Vol. 2, No. 4, 1994, pp. 337-343
Bioline Code: cs94045
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge

African Crop Science Journal, Vol. 2, No. 4, 1994, pp. 337-343

 en An Overview of Cassava in Africa
Dahinya, M.T

Abstract

Cassava is one of the most important staple food crops in Africa. It is a major source of energy for over 200 million people in the continent. The ten countries in the world whose food energy comes mostly from cassava are all in Africa. More cassava is now being produced in Africa than in South America where the crop originated. Apart from the production of tuberous roots, millions of tons of cassava leaves are harvested and used as a vegetable which provides protein, vitamins and minerals. The crop's production is among the most stable of the world's major food crops. It is adapted to the diverse African farming systems, can grow on a wide range of soils, is an efficient producer of calories and its capability for protein production is higher than commonly realized. Despite the numerous advantages that cassava offers, there were limited research and development activities on the crop in African until comparatively recently. This is because the crop was for long and erroneously considered to be of inferior status because it is of low value. There is also a perceived inverse relationship between cassava consumption and standard of living. Most African governments have been importing large quantities of grain, mainly to satisfy politically active urban populations. This discourages farmers in rural areas from producing cassava, which is generally well adapted to local environmental conditions. Concerted national, regional and international efforts are now being made to overcome the numerous constraints that limit cassava production in Africa. There are several serious challenges facing cassava researcher in Africa today; key among these are the need to address the problems of low yield, pests, diseases and weeds. There is also a need for studies on intercropping, cassava farming systems, post harvest technology and cyanogenesis, and for training cassava researchers and those engaged in technology transfer. Moreover, varieties are required that are adapted to lowland conditions, to a range of growing seasons and with mealy cooking quality and drought tolerance. The effectiveness with which these challenges are met will largely determine whether the need for food security in the continent is realized.

Keywords
Manihot esculenta, food security, adaptation, post-harvest, pests, diseases, weeds, intercropping

 
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