"Yuca" redirects here. For Yucca, see Yucca (disambiguation).
Leaves of the cassava plant
A manioc tuber
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Crotonoideae
Tribe: Manihoteae
Genus: Manihot
Species: M. esculenta
Binomial name
Manihot esculenta
  • Janipha aipi (Pohl) J. Presl
  • Janipha manihot (L.) Kunth
  • Jatropha aipi (Pohl) A. Moller
  • Jatropha diffusa (Pohl) Steud.
  • Jatropha digitiformis (Pohl) Steud.
  • Jatropha dulcis J. F. Gmel.
  • Jatropha flabellifolia (Pohl) Steud.
  • Jatropha glauca A. Rich. nom. illeg.
  • Jatropha janipha Lour. nom. illeg.
  • Jatropha loureiroi (Pohl) Steud.
  • Jatropha manihot L.
  • Jatropha mitis Rottb.
  • Jatropha mitis Sessé & Moc. nom. illeg.
  • Jatropha paniculata Ruiz & Pav. ex Pax
  • Jatropha silvestris Vell.
  • Jatropha stipulata Vell.
  • Mandioca aipi (Pohl) Link
  • Mandioca dulcis (J. F. Gmel.) D. Parodi
  • Mandioca utilissima (Pohl) Link
  • Manihot aipi Pohl
  • Manihot aypi Spruce
  • Manihot cannabina Sweet
  • Manihot cassava Cook & Collins nom. inval.
  • Manihot diffusa Pohl
  • Manihot digitiformis Pohl
  • Manihot dulcis (J. F. Gmel.) Pax
  • Manihot dulcis (J. F. Gmel.) Baill.
  • Manihot edule A. Rich.
  • Manihot edulis A. Rich.
  • Manihot flabellifolia Pohl
  • Manihot flexuosa Pax & K. Hoffm.
  • Manihot guyanensis Klotzsch ex Pax nom. illeg.
  • Manihot loureiroi Pohl
  • Manihot manihot (L.) H. Karst. nom. inval.
  • Manihot melanobasis Müll. Arg.
  • Manihot sprucei Pax
  • Manihot utilissima Pohl

Manihot esculenta (commonly called cassava (/kəˈsɑːvə/),[2] yuca, manioc,[2] "mandioca" and Brazilian arrowroot[2]) is a woody shrub native to South America of the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. It is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. Though it is often called yuca in Spanish and in the United States, it differs from the yucca, an unrelated fruit-bearing shrub in the family Asparagaceae. Cassava, when dried to a powdery (or pearly) extract, is called tapioca; its fermented, flaky version is named garri.

Cassava is the third largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics, after rice and maize.[3][4] Cassava is a major staple food in the developing world, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people.[5] It is one of the most drought-tolerant crops, capable of growing on marginal soils. Nigeria is the world's largest producer of cassava, while Thailand is the largest exporter of dried cassava.

Cassava is classified as either sweet or bitter. Like other roots and tubers, both bitter and sweet varieties of cassava contain antinutritional factors and toxins, with the bitter varieties containing much larger amounts.[6] They must be properly prepared before consumption, as improper preparation of cassava can leave enough residual cyanide to cause acute cyanide intoxication,[7] goiters, and even ataxia or partial paralysis.[8] The more toxic varieties of cassava are a fall-back resource (a "food security crop") in times of famine in some places.[9] Farmers often prefer the bitter varieties because they deter pests, animals, and thieves.[10]


The cassava root is long and tapered, with a firm, homogeneous flesh encased in a detachable rind, about 1 mm thick, rough and brown on the outside. Commercial varieties can be 5 to 10 cm (2.0 to 3.9 in) in diameter at the top, and around 15 to 30 cm (5.9 to 11.8 in) long. A woody vascular bundle runs along the root's axis. The flesh can be chalk-white or yellowish. Cassava roots are very rich in starch and contain significant amounts of calcium (50 mg/100g), phosphorus (40 mg/100g) and vitamin C (25 mg/100g). However, they are poor in protein and other nutrients. In contrast, cassava leaves are a good source of protein (rich in lysine) but deficient in the amino acid methionine and possibly tryptophan.[11]

Details of cassava plants
Unprocessed roots
Leaf detail
Picked buds


Yuca in Moche culture, 100 AD, Larco Museum Collection

Wild populations of M. esculenta subspecies flabellifolia, shown to be the progenitor of domesticated cassava, are centered in west-central Brazil, where it was likely first domesticated no more than 10,000 years BP.[12] Forms of the modern domesticated species can also be found growing in the wild in the south of Brazil. By 4,600 BC, manioc (cassava) pollen appears in the Gulf of Mexico lowlands, at the San Andrés archaeological site.[13] The oldest direct evidence of cassava cultivation comes from a 1,400-year-old Maya site, Joya de Cerén, in El Salvador.[14] With its high food potential, it had become a staple food of the native populations of northern South America, southern Mesoamerica, and the Caribbean by the time of the Spanish conquest. Its cultivation was continued by the colonial Portuguese and Spanish.

Cassava was a staple food for pre-Columbian peoples in the Americas and is often portrayed in indigenous art. The Moche people often depicted yuca in their ceramics.[15]

Mass production of Casabe bread became the first Cuban industry established by the Spanish . Ships departing to Europe from Cuban ports such as Havana, Santiago, Bayamo, and Baracoa not only carried goods to Spain. The Spanish also needed to replenish their boats with dried meat, water, fruit and large amounts of casabe bread . Cuban weather was not suitable for wheat planting and casabe would not go stale as quickly as regular bread.

Cassava was introduced to Africa by Portuguese traders from Brazil in the 16th century. Maize and cassava are now important staple foods, replacing native African crops.[16] Cassava is sometimes described as the 'bread of the tropics'[17] but should not be confused with the tropical and equatorial bread tree (Encephalartos), the breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) or the African breadfruit (Treculia africana).

Economic importance and production

A cross-section of cassava

World production of cassava root was estimated to be 184 million tonnes in 2002, rising to 230 million tonnes in 2008.[18] The majority of production in 2002 was in Africa, where 99.1 million tonnes were grown; 51.5 million tonnes were grown in Asia; and 33.2 million tonnes in Latin America and the Caribbean, specifically Jamaica. Nigeria is the world's largest producer of cassava. However, based on the statistics from the FAO of the United Nations, Thailand is the largest exporting country of dried cassava, with a total of 77% of world export in 2005. The second-largest exporting country is Vietnam, with 13.6%, followed by Indonesia (5.8%) and Costa Rica (2.1%).

In 2010, the average yield of cassava crops worldwide was 12.5 tonnes per hectare. The most productive cassava farms in the world were in India, with a nationwide average yield of 34.8 tonnes per hectare in 2010.[19]

Cassava, yams (Dioscorea spp.), and sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are important sources of food in the tropics. The cassava plant gives the third-highest yield of carbohydrates per cultivated area among crop plants, after sugarcane and sugar beets.[20] Cassava plays a particularly important role in agriculture in developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, because it does well on poor soils and with low rainfall, and because it is a perennial that can be harvested as required. Its wide harvesting window allows it to act as a famine reserve and is invaluable in managing labor schedules. It offers flexibility to resource-poor farmers because it serves as either a subsistence or a cash crop.[21]

Cassava in cultivation in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Worldwide, 800 million people depend on cassava as their primary food staple.[22] No continent depends as much on root and tuber crops in feeding its population as does Africa. In the humid and subhumid areas of tropical Africa, it is either a primary staple food or a secondary costaple. In Ghana, for example, cassava and yams occupy an important position in the agricultural economy and contribute about 46% of the agricultural gross domestic product. Cassava accounts for a daily caloric intake of 30% in Ghana and is grown by nearly every farming family. The importance of cassava to many Africans is epitomised in the Ewe (a language spoken in Ghana, Togo and Benin) name for the plant, agbeli, meaning "there is life".

In Tamil Nadu, India, there are many cassava processing factories alongside National Highway 68 between Thalaivasal and Attur. Cassava is widely cultivated and eaten as a staple food in Andhra Pradesh and in Kerala. In Assam it is an important source of carbohydrates especially for natives of hilly areas.

In the subtropical region of southern China, cassava is the fifth-largest crop in term of production, after rice, sweet potato, sugar cane and maize. China is also the largest export market for cassava produced in Vietnam and Thailand. Over 60% of cassava production in China is concentrated in a single province, Guangxi, averaging over 7 million tonnes annually.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization's corporate statistical database (FAOSTAT) the top 20 cassava producing countries by year 2012 were as follows:

Rank Country Cassava Production


1 Nigeria 54 000 000
2 Thailand 29 848 000
3 Indonesia 24 177 372
4 Brazil 23 044 557
5 Democratic Republic of the Congo 16 000 000
6 Ghana 14 547 279
7 Angola 10 636 400
8 Mozambique 10 051 364
9 Viet Nam 9 745 545
10 India 8 746 500
11 Cambodia 7 613 697
12 United Republic of Tanzania 5 462 454
13 Uganda 4 924 560
14 Malawi 4 692 202
15 China 4 560 000
16 Cameroon 4 287 177
17 Sierra Leone 3 520 000
18 Madagascar 3 621 309
19 Benin 3 295 785
20 Rwanda 2 716 421


Alcoholic beverages

Alcoholic beverages made from cassava include Cauim and tiquira (Brazil), kasiri (Guyana), Impala (Mozambique) masato (Peruvian Amazonia chicha), parakari or kari (Guyana), nihamanchi (South America) aka nijimanche (Ecuador and Peru), ö döi (chicha de yuca, Ngäbe-Bugle, Panama), sakurá (Brazil, Surinam).


Main article: Cassava-based dishes
Cassava heavy cake
Cassava Cake, Philippine dessert

Cassava-based dishes are widely consumed wherever the plant is cultivated; some have regional, national, or ethnic importance.[23] Cassava must be cooked properly to detoxify it before it is eaten.

Cassava can be cooked in many ways. The root of the sweet variety has a delicate flavor and can replace potatoes. It is used in cholent in some households. It can be made into a flour that is used in breads, cakes and cookies. In Brazil, detoxified manioc is ground and cooked to a dry, often hard or crunchy meal known as farofa used as a condiment, toasted in butter, or eaten alone as a side dish.

Nutritional profile

Processing cassava starch into cassava noodles, Kampong Cham

Cassava root is essentially a carbohydrate source.[24] Its composition shows 60–65 percent moisture, 20–31 percent carbohydrate, 1–2 percent crude protein and a comparatively low content of vitamins and minerals. However, the roots are rich in calcium and vitamin C and contain a nutritionally significant quantity of thiamine, riboflavin and nicotinic acid. Cassava starch contains 70 percent amylopectin and 20 percent amylose. Cooked cassava starch has a digestibility of over 75 percent.

Cassava root provides little protein, but that protein does contain essential amino acids. Methionine, cysteine and cystine are the limiting amino acids in cassava root.

Cassava is attractive as nutrition source in certain ecosystems because cassava is one of the most drought-tolerant crops, can be successfully grown on marginal soils, and gives reasonable yields where many other crops do not grow well. Cassava is well adapted within latitudes 30° north and south of the equator, at elevations between sea level and 2,000 m (6,600 ft) above sea level, in equatorial temperatures, with rainfalls from 50 mm (2.0 in) to 5 m (16 ft) annually, and to poor soils with a pH ranging from acidic to alkaline. These conditions are common in certain parts of Africa and South America.

Cassava is a highly productive crop in terms of food calories produced per unit land area per unit of time, significantly higher than other staple crops. Cassava can produce food calories at rates exceeding 250,000 cal/hectare/day compared with 176,000 for rice, 110,000 for wheat, and 200,000 for maize (corn).

Cassava, like other foods, also has antinutritional and toxic factors. Of particular concern are the cyanogenic glucosides of cassava (linamarin and lotaustralin). On hydrolysis, these release hydrocyanic acid (HCN). The presence of cyanide in cassava is of concern for human and for animal consumption. The concentration of these antinutritional and unsafe glycosides varies considerably between varieties and also with climatic and cultural conditions. Selection of cassava species to be grown, therefore, is quite important. Once harvested, bitter cassava must be treated and prepared properly prior to human or animal consumption, while sweet cassava can be used after simple boiling.

Comparison with other major staple foods

Marinated cassava (Spanish: Yuca en escabeche)

The following table shows the nutrient content of cassava and compares it with major staple foods in a raw form. Raw forms of these staples, however, are not edible and cannot be digested. These must be sprouted, or prepared and cooked as appropriate for human consumption. In sprouted or cooked form, the relative nutritional and antinutritional contents of each of these grains is remarkably different from that of raw form of these grains reported in this table. The nutrition value for each staple food in cooked form depends on the cooking method (boiling, baking, steaming, frying, etc.).

The table shows that cassava is a good energy source, but like potato, cassava's protein and essential nutrients density is lower than other staple foods.

Nutrient content of major staple foods per 100g portion[25]
Nutrient component: Maize / Corn[A] Rice (white)[B] Rice (brown)[I] Wheat[C] Potato[D] Cassava[E] Soybean (Green)[F] Sweet potato[G] Yam[Y] Sorghum[H] Plantain[Z] RDA
Water (g) 10 12 10 13 79 60 68 77 70 9 65 3000
Energy (kJ) 1528 1528 1549 1369 322 670 615 360 494 1419 511 2000–2500
Protein (g) 9.4 7.1 7.9 12.6 2.0 1.4 13.0 1.6 1.5 11.3 1.3 50
Fat (g) 4.74 0.66 2.92 1.54 0.09 0.28 6.8 0.05 0.17 3.3 0.37
Carbohydrates (g) 74 80 77 71 17 38 11 20 28 75 32 130
Fiber (g) 7.3 1.3 3.5 12.2 2.2 1.8 4.2 3 4.1 6.3 2.3 30
Sugar (g) 0.64 0.12 0.85 0.41 0.78 1.7 0 4.18 0.5 0 15
Calcium (mg) 7 28 23 29 12 16 197 30 17 28 3 1000
Iron (mg) 2.71 0.8 1.47 3.19 0.78 0.27 3.55 0.61 0.54 4.4 0.6 8
Magnesium (mg) 127 25 143 126 23 21 65 25 21 0 37 400
Phosphorus (mg) 210 115 333 288 57 27 194 47 55 287 34 700
Potassium (mg) 287 115 223 363 421 271 620 337 816 350 499 4700
Sodium (mg) 35 5 7 2 6 14 15 55 9 6 4 1500
Zinc (mg) 2.21 1.09 2.02 2.65 0.29 0.34 0.99 0.3 0.24 0 0.14 11
Copper (mg) 0.31 0.22 0.43 0.11 0.10 0.13 0.15 0.18 - 0.08 0.9
Manganese (mg) 0.49 1.09 3.74 3.99 0.15 0.38 0.55 0.26 0.40 - - 2.3
Selenium (μg) 15.5 15.1 70.7 0.3 0.7 1.5 0.6 0.7 0 1.5 55
Vitamin C (mg) 0 0 0 0 19.7 20.6 29 2.4 17.1 0 18.4 90
Thiamin (B1)(mg) 0.39 0.07 0.40 0.30 0.08 0.09 0.44 0.08 0.11 0.24 0.05 1.2
Riboflavin (B2)(mg) 0.20 0.05 0.09 0.12 0.03 0.05 0.18 0.06 0.03 0.14 0.05 1.3
Niacin (B3) (mg) 3.63 1.6 5.09 5.46 1.05 0.85 1.65 0.56 0.55 2.93 0.69 16
Pantothenic acid (B5) (mg) 0.42 1.01 1.49 0.95 0.30 0.11 0.15 0.80 0.31 - 0.26 5
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.62 0.16 0.51 0.3 0.30 0.09 0.07 0.21 0.29 - 0.30 1.3
Folate Total (B9) (μg) 19 8 20 38 16 27 165 11 23 0 22 400
Vitamin A (IU) 214 0 0 9 2 13 180 14187 138 0 1127 5000
Vitamin E, alpha-tocopherol (mg) 0.49 0.11 0.59 1.01 0.01 0.19 0 0.26 0.39 0 0.14 15
Vitamin K1 (μg) 0.3 0.1 1.9 1.9 1.9 1.9 0 1.8 2.6 0 0.7 120
Beta-carotene (μg) 97 0 5 1 8 0 8509 83 0 457 10500
Lutein+zeaxanthin (μg) 1355 0 220 8 0 0 0 0 0 30
Saturated fatty acids (g) 0.67 0.18 0.58 0.26 0.03 0.07 0.79 0.02 0.04 0.46 0.14
Monounsaturated fatty acids (g) 1.25 0.21 1.05 0.2 0.00 0.08 1.28 0.00 0.01 0.99 0.03
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (g) 2.16 0.18 1.04 0.63 0.04 0.05 3.20 0.01 0.08 1.37 0.07
A yellow corn B raw unenriched long-grain white rice
C hard red winter wheat D raw potato with flesh and skin
E raw cassava F raw green soybeans
G raw sweet potato H raw sorghum
Y raw yam Z raw plantains
I raw long-grain brown rice


In many countries, significant research has begun to evaluate the use of cassava as an ethanol biofuel feedstock. Under the Development Plan for Renewable Energy in the Eleventh Five-Year Plan in the People's Republic of China, the target is to increase the application of ethanol fuel by nongrain feedstock to 2 million tonnes, and that of biodiesel to 200 thousand tonnes by 2010. This will be equivalent to a substitute of 10 million tonnes of petroleum. As a result, cassava (tapioca) chips have gradually become a major source for ethanol production.[26] On December 22, 2007, the largest cassava ethanol fuel production facility was completed in Beihai, with annual output of 200 thousand tons, which would need an average of 1.5 million tons of cassava.[27] In November 2008, China-based Hainan Yedao Group reportedly invested $51.5m (£31.8m) in a new biofuel facility that is expected to produce 33 million US gallons (120,000 m3) a year of bioethanol from cassava plants.[28]

Animal feed

Tubers being grated; a close-up of the product; same drying on road to be used for pig and chicken feed

Cassava tubers and hay are used worldwide as animal feed. Cassava hay is harvested at a young growth stage (three to four months) when it reaches about 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 in) above ground; it is then sun-dried for one to two days until it has final dry matter content of less than 85%. Cassava hay contains high protein (20–27% crude protein) and condensed tannins (1.5–4% CP). It is valued as a good roughage source for ruminants such as cattle.[29]

Laundry starch

Manioc is also used in a number of commercially available laundry products, especially as starch for shirts and other garments. Using manioc starch diluted in water and spraying it over fabrics before ironing helps stiffen collars.

Medicinal use

According to the American Cancer Society, cassava is ineffective as an anti-cancer agent: "there is no convincing scientific evidence that cassava or tapioca is effective in preventing or treating cancer".[30]

Food use, processing and toxicity

Cassava root, peeled

Cassava roots, peels and leaves should not be consumed raw because they contain two cyanogenic glucosides, linamarin and lotaustralin. These are decomposed by linamarase, a naturally occurring enzyme in cassava, liberating hydrogen cyanide (HCN).[31] Cassava varieties are often categorized as either sweet or bitter, signifying the absence or presence of toxic levels of cyanogenic glucosides, respectively. The so-called sweet (actually not bitter) cultivars can produce as little as 20 milligrams of cyanide (CN) per kilogram of fresh roots, whereas bitter ones may produce more than 50 times as much (1 g/kg). Cassavas grown during drought are especially high in these toxins.[32][33] A dose of 25 mg of pure cassava cyanogenic glucoside, which contains 2.5 mg of cyanide, is sufficient to kill a rat.[34] Excess cyanide residue from improper preparation is known to cause acute cyanide intoxication, and goiters, and has been linked to ataxia (a neurological disorder affecting the ability to walk, also known as konzo).[8] It has also been linked to tropical calcific pancreatitis in humans, leading to chronic pancreatitis.[35]

A woman washes cassava in a river.

Societies that traditionally eat cassava generally understand that some processing (soaking, cooking, fermentation, etc.) is necessary to avoid getting sick.[36]

Symptoms of acute cyanide intoxication appear four or more hours after ingesting raw or poorly processed cassava: vertigo, vomiting, and collapse. In some cases, death may result within one or two hours. It can be treated easily with an injection of thiosulfate (which makes sulfur available for the patient's body to detoxify by converting the poisonous cyanide into thiocyanate).[37]

"Chronic, low-level cyanide exposure is associated with the development of goiter and with tropical ataxic neuropathy, a nerve-damaging disorder that renders a person unsteady and uncoordinated. Severe cyanide poisoning, particularly during famines, is associated with outbreaks of a debilitating, irreversible paralytic disorder called konzo and, in some cases, death. The incidence of konzo and tropical ataxic neuropathy can be as high as 3% in some areas."[38][39]

Cassava bread

Brief soaking (four hours) of cassava is not sufficient, but soaking for 18–24 hours can remove up to half the level of cyanide. Drying may not be sufficient, either.[40]

For some smaller-rooted, sweet varieties, cooking is sufficient to eliminate all toxicity. The cyanide is carried away in the processing water and the amounts produced in domestic consumption are too small to have environmental impact.[31] The larger-rooted, bitter varieties used for production of flour or starch must be processed to remove the cyanogenic glucosides. The large roots are peeled and then ground into flour, which is then soaked in water, squeezed dry several times, and toasted. The starch grains that float to the surface during the soaking process are also used in cooking.[41] The flour is used throughout South America and the Caribbean. Industrial production of cassava flour, even at the cottage level, may generate enough cyanide and cyanogenic glycosides in the effluents to have a severe environmental impact.[31]

A safe processing method used by the pre-Columbian people of the Americas is to mix the cassava flour with water into a thick paste and then let it stand in the shade for five hours in a thin layer spread over a basket. In that time, about 83% of the cyanogenic glycosides are broken down by the linamarase; the resulting hydrogen cyanide escapes to the atmosphere, making the flour safe for consumption the same evening.[42]

The traditional method used in West Africa is to peel the roots and put them into water for three days to ferment. The roots then are dried or cooked. In Nigeria and several other west African countries, including Ghana, Cameroon, Benin, Togo, Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso, they are usually grated and lightly fried in palm oil to preserve them. The result is a foodstuff called gari. Fermentation is also used in other places such as Indonesia (see Tapai). The fermentation process also reduces the level of antinutrients, making the cassava a more nutritious food.[43]

The reliance on cassava as a food source and the resulting exposure to the goitrogenic effects of thiocyanate has been responsible for the endemic goiters seen in the Akoko area of southwestern Nigeria.[44][45]

A project called "BioCassava Plus" is developing a cassava with lower cyanogen glucosides and fortified with vitamin A, iron and protein to help the nutrition of people in sub-Saharan Africa.[46][47] In 2011, the director of the program said he hoped to obtain regulatory approvals by 2017.[48]



Cassava is harvested by hand by raising the lower part of the stem and pulling the roots out of the ground, then removing them from the base of the plant. The upper parts of the stems with the leaves are plucked off before harvest. Cassava is propagated by cutting the stem into sections of approximately 15 cm, these being planted prior to the wet season.[49]

Postharvest handling and storage

Cassava undergoes postharvest physiological deterioration, or PPD, once the tubers are separated from the main plant. The tubers, when damaged, normally respond with a healing mechanism. However, the same mechanism, which involves coumaric acids, initiates about 15 minutes after damage, and fails to switch off in harvested tubers. It continues until the entire tuber is oxidized and blackened within two to three days after harvest, rendering it unpalatable and useless. Recent work has indicated that PPD is related to the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) initiated by cyanide release during mechanical harvesting. Based on this research, cassava shelf life was increased to up to 2 weeks by overexpressing a cyanide insensitive alternative oxidase.[50]

PPD is one of the main obstacles currently preventing farmers from exporting cassavas abroad and generating income. Fresh cassava can be preserved like potato, using thiabendazole or bleach as a fungicide, then wrapping in plastic, coating in wax or freezing.[51]

Frozen cassava leaves from the Philippines sold at a Los Angeles market

The major cause of losses during cassava chip storage is infestation by insects. A wide range of species that feed directly on the dried chips have been reported as the cause of weight loss in the stored produce. Some loss assessment studies and estimations on dried cassava chips have been carried out in different countries. Hiranandan and Advani (1955) measured 12 - 14% post-harvest weight losses in India for chips stored for about five months. Killick (1966) estimated for Ghana that 19% of the harvest cassava roots are lost annually, and Nicol (1991) estimated a 15–20% loss of dried chips stored for eight months. Pattinson (1968) estimated for Tanzania a 12% weight loss of cassava chips stored for five months, and Hodges et al. (1985) assessed during a field survey postharvest losses of up to 19% after 3 months and up to 63% after four to five months due to the infestation of Prostephanus truncatus (Horn). In Togo, Stabrawa (1991) assessed postharvest weight losses of 5% after one month of storage and 15% after three months of storage due to insect infestation, and Compton (1991) assessed weight losses of about 9% for each store in the survey area in Togo. Wright et al. (1993) assessed postharvest losses of chips of about 14% after four months of storage, about 20% after seven months of storage and up to 30% when P. truncatus attacked the dried chips. In addition, Wright et al. (1993) estimated about 4% of the total national cassava production in Togo is lost during the chip storage. This was about equivalent to 0.05% of the GNP in 1989.

Plant breeding has resulted in cassava that is tolerant to PPD. Sánchez et al.[52] identified four different sources of tolerance to PPD. One comes from Walker's Manihot (M. walkerae) of southern Texas in the United States and Tamaulipas in Mexico. A second source was induced by mutagenic levels of gamma rays, which putatively silenced one of the genes involved in PPD genesis. A third source was a group of high-carotene clones. The antioxidant properties of carotenoids are postulated to protect the roots from PPD (basically an oxidative process). Finally, tolerance was also observed in a waxy-starch (amylose-free) mutant. This tolerance to PPD was thought to be cosegregated with the starch mutation, and is not a pleiotropic effect of the latter.


In Africa, a previous issue was the cassava mealybug (Phenacoccus manihoti) and cassava green mite (Mononychellus tanajoa). These pests can cause up to 80% crop loss, which is extremely detrimental to the production of subsistence farmers. These pests were rampant in the 1970s and 1980s but were brought under control following the establishment of the "Biological Control Centre for Africa" of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) under the leadership of Hans Rudolf Herren.[53] The Centre investigated biological control for cassava pests; two South American natural enemies Apoanagyrus lopezi (a parasitoid wasp) and Typhlodromalus aripo (a predatory mite) were found to effectively control the cassava mealybug and the cassava green mite, respectively.

The African cassava mosaic virus causes the leaves of the cassava plant to wither, limiting the growth of the root.[54] An outbreak of the virus in Africa in the 1920s led to a major famine.[55] The virus is spread by the whitefly and by the transplanting of diseased plants into new fields. Sometime in the late 1980s, a mutation occurred in Uganda that made the virus even more harmful, causing the complete loss of leaves. This mutated virus spread at a rate of 50 mi (80 km) per year, and as of 2005 was found throughout Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo.[56]

Cassava brown streak virus disease has been identified as a major threat to cultivation worldwide.[55]

A wide range of plant parasitic nematodes have been reported associated with cassava worldwide. These include Pratylenchus brachyurus, Rotylenchulus reniformis, Helicotylenchus spp., Scutellonema spp. and Meloidogyne spp., of which Meloidogyne incognita and Meloidogyne javanica are the most widely reported and economically important.[57] Meloidogyne spp. feeding produces physically damaging galls with eggs inside them. Galls later merge as the females grow and enlarge, and they interfere with water and nutrient supply.[58] Cassava roots become tough with age and restrict the movement of the juveniles and the egg release. It is therefore possible that extensive galling can be observed even at low densities following infection.[59] Other pest and diseases can gain entry through the physical damage caused by gall formation, leading to rots. They have not been shown to cause direct damage to the enlarged storage roots, but plants can have reduced height if there was loss of enlarged root weight.[60]

Research on nematode pests of cassava is still in the early stages; results on the response of cassava is, therefore, not consistent, ranging from negligible to seriously damaging.[61][62][63][64] Since nematodes have such a seemingly erratic distribution in cassava agricultural fields, it is not easy to clearly define the level of direct damage attributed to nematodes and thereafter quantify the success of a chosen management method.[59]

The use of nematicides has been found to result in lower numbers of galls per feeder root compared to a control, coupled with a lower number of rots in the storage roots.[65] The organophosphorus nematicide femaniphos, when used, did not affect crop growth and yield parameter variables measured at harvest. Nematicide use in cassava is neither practical nor sustainable; the use of tolerant and resistant varieties is the most practical and sustainable management method.[59]

See also


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