How to grow Cassava? - Cassava Industry Development –

Ormee Molly • 7 June 2019

The Caribbean faces a huge import substitution market opportunity for food, flour, feed and beer (and possibly energy) that can be addressed by the development of the cassava industry which already has a production base in almost all of the countries of the region. Recent estimates suggest that countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) currently import, on an annual basis, nearly 900,000 metric tonnes (MT) of wheat for flour and 420,000 MT of corn (mainly for poultry feed). Furthermore, regional beer industry imports nearly 100,000 t of malt annually. All of these industries recognize the substitution possibilities and have expressed interest in utilizing locally-produced cassava in their production systems. To address this demand it is essential to develop the cassava value chain focusing on the supply and yields through improved and increased production, processing and marketing technologies. Cassava has been prioritized by several countries of the region for development as a food and commodity crop. A multi-purpose crop, cassava is adapted to a wide range of soils and environments. However, the low production and productivity levels in the Caribbean must be addressed if cassava is to become commercially viable. Cassava can also serve to mitigate the negative impacts of the ongoing global crisis which has aggravated food and nutrition insecurity and resulted in higher cost of living, with social dislocation through increased rural unemployment. The heavy dependence on imported foods has resulted in (1) most countries being designated ‘net food-importing’ nations and (2) a change in food consumption patterns of the populations that have led to high levels of diet-related non-communicable diseases, associated with the highly-processed imported foods. Development of the cassava value-chain will thus also benefit the region from the perspective of rural area development and employment opportunities, preventative health care and reducing the food import bill. The regional cassava industry, however, remains fragmented and unorganized. In order to exploit the market potential of cassava, it is necessary to promote an integrated approach that results in a sustainable industry with ownership by Caribbean stakeholders. Thus, the current project focuses on the development of the following areas of the cassava industry: 1. On-farm research and dissemination of new cassava production technologies to increase yields 2. Capacity building using farmer participatory extension methodologies to strengthen their capacity to conduct farmer participatory research. 3. Consumer / market development and assessment of the market potential for cassava and its by-products Institutional strengthening, technology/information development, organizational development and youth and gender considerations will be common themes addressed under all pillars. The project will build on recent and ongoing activities and will be implemented in collaborative partnership with public and private sector agencies and regional organizations, some of which have recently worked, or are currently working, on developing the regional cassava industry. The project will be executed by the FAO Sub-regional Office in Barbados (SLC). A Project Implementation Committee will be established to oversee the execution of the project. This Committee will include representatives from Governments as well as Regional and National Organizations and the private sector. It is anticipated that a number of Letters of Agreements (LoAs) will be established with coordinating partners, and consultants engaged for the implementation of specific components. The countries of Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Dominica have been identified for assistance in the document and the Ministries of Agriculture in the countries in which the project will be implemented will be responsible for nominating a National Project Coordinator (NPC) at their own cost to support the activities. The project will cover the cost of materials, equipment and expenses for training, official travel and general operating expenses as well as direct operating costs. The total budget for the project is USD 1,200,000.