Food Security

, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp 907–927 | Cite as

Crops that feed the world: Production and improvement of cassava for food, feed, and industrial uses

  • Aditya ParmarEmail author
  • Barbara Sturm
  • Oliver Hensel


Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) is one of the oldest root and tuber crops, used by humans to produce food, feed and beverages. Currently, cassava is produced in more than 100 countries and fulfils the daily caloric demands of millions of people living in tropical America, Africa, and Asia. Its importance as a food security crop is high in Western, Central and Eastern Africa due to its ability to produce reasonable yields (~10 t/ha) in poor soils and with minimal inputs. Traditionally a famine reserve and a subsistence crop, the status of cassava is now evolving fast as a cash crop and as raw material in the production of starch (and starch based products), energy (bio-ethanol) and livestock feed in the major producing countries. Cassava leaves, which are rich in protein and beta-carotenoids, are also used as a vegetable and forage (fresh or dehydrated meal) in various parts of the world. In recent years, some of the problems in the production of cassava have been increasing infection with cassava mosaic disease (CMD), cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) and cassava bacterial blight (CBB). Inherent post-harvest physiological disorder (PPD) and cyanogenic glycosides (CG) are some of the most prominent challenges for scientists, producers and consumers in the post-production systems. Collaborative research in participatory plant breeding is ongoing at leading international research institutes such as IITA and CIAT to improve crop resistance to virus diseases, reduce PPD and CG, and improve the overall nutritional characteristics. Further research should also focus on post-production systems by developing enhanced storage and transportation techniques, mechanisation (peeling, size reduction, drying and dewatering) and improved packaging. Moreover, a robust national policy, market development, and dissemination and extension program are required to realise the full potential of innovations and technologies in cassava production and processing.


Cassava Cassava breeding Cassava leaves Cyanogenic glucosides Cassava mosaic disease Cassava brown streak disease Manihot esculenta Postharvest physiological disorder 



This work was supported by the German Academic Exchange Services (DAAD) and GlobeE project RELOAD (Grant No. 031A247A) funded by Ministry of Education and Research and Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. and International Society for Plant Pathology 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural and Biosystems EngineeringUniversity of KasselWitzenhausenGermany
  2. 2.School of Agriculture, Food and Rural DevelopmentNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK

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