Nigeria tops list of cassava producing countries in the world. Cassava, better known to Americans as tapioca, an important food crop in many countries, is produced in the highest quantities in Nigeria, followed by Thailand and Indonesia. Other names for cassava are yuca, manioc, mandioca, yucca root, casabe, and tapioca.
“Manihot esculenta” or “cassava” is a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae family that is native to South America. The edible starchy tuberous root of cassava is consumed worldwide. It is presently grown as an annual crop in subtropical and tropical regions of the world.
Cassava is native to Brazil and the tropical areas of the Americas. It’s widely grown all over Latin America and the Caribbean. It was, and still is, an essential root vegetable in the Caribbean diet. It’s been around, since before Columbus’s arrival, as a staple food of the Taino, Carib, and Arawak population, especially in the form of cassava bread. Because it was so crucial to the culture, the natives revered it. A 1554 Spanish historical account describes a ceremony in which a native priest blessed cassava bread and then divided it among the tribal people present. The recipients then preserved the bread to protect their families from danger throughout the following year. Cassava is still eaten throughout all the islands today and you’ll find it piled high at produce markets.
Cassava has a long and tapered root with commercial cultivars being 5 to 10 cm in diameter at the top, and 15 to 30 cm in length. The flesh of the cassava is chalk-white to yellowish in color.
Uses Of Cassava
Roots of the plant are starch-rich with small amounts of vitamin C, phosphorus, and calcium. Proteins and other nutrients are present in negligible amounts. However, leaves of cassava are a rich protein source but deficient in certain amino acids.
Here’s what you can make with cassava (yuca, manioc, mandioca, yucca root, casabe, tapioca). Grated bitter yuca is used to make casabe, which is a traditional crisp, unleavened, flat bread popular in the Dominican Republic. In the United States, casabe is sold in specialty markets because bitter cassava is not available and it takes time and skill – a true Caribbean artisan bread; it’s as crisp as a cracker.
Cassava is incredibly versatile; it can be boiled, baked, steamed, grilled, fried, mashed or added to stews. Frequently, it is served with meat, sprinkled with salt, pepper and lime juice. Many recipes call for it to be grated. When cooked, it turns yellow, slightly translucent, a little sweet, and chewy. The root can also be made into a ground meal or flour by washing, peeling and grating it, and then pressing out the juice and drying the meal.
The meal can be bought already prepared and frozen. On the French influenced islands, cassava meal is known as farine, a shortened form of farine de manioc. farina is also a popular staple of the Nigerian community in the US.
Production Of Cassava
In 2014, 268 million tons of cassava was produced. The world’s largest producer of cassava is Nigeria with a production of 47,406,770 tons. With a production of 30,227,542 tons, Thailand follows next. Indonesia (23,936,920) and Brazil (21,484,218) rank third and fourth in the world in cassava production.
The Economic Importance Of Cassava
Cassava is an important food source in the tropics and provides the third-highest carbohydrate yield among the crop plants. Since the plant grows well in poor soils and low rainfall areas, it is a popular crop in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa. Cassava tolerates a wide variety of growth conditions including soils with pH ranging from acidic to alkaline, annual rainfalls from 50 mm to 5 m, elevation between sea-level and 6,600 feet, and even equatorial temperatures. The fact that it is a perennial plant makes it easy to harvest the crop when required and treat it as a food reserve during droughts and famines. Cassava thus serves as both a cash and a subsistence crop.
African nations are the most heavily dependent on root and tuber crops like cassava, yams, and sweet potatoes. In some countries of sub-Saharan Africa, cassava is even a staple or a sub-staple. In Ghana, 46% of the GDP of the country is contributed by trade in cassava. Nearly every farming family in the country grow cassava and it accounts for the daily caloric intake of at least 30% of the residents of the country.
In India, cassava is a staple food in the Kerala and Andhra Pradesh states of the country. It is also consumed as an important carbohydrate source in Assam. The cassava produced in Thailand and Vietnam find the largest export market in China. In China, the Guangxi province is responsible for about 60% of the country’s cassava production. Several types of alcoholic beverages are also made from cassava. Cassava is also an important part of many cuisines worldwide. Cassava also has certain toxic properties that must be treated before consumption.
Significant research is being done to evaluate the use of cassava as a source of biofuel. Cassava tubers are also used as an important animal feed. A number of laundry products use utilize cassava derivatives as laundry starch.
Cooking or pressing the root thoroughly removes the Prussic acid (hydrocyanic acid) poison. Cassava can never be eaten raw. Bitter, or wild, cassava contains enough acid so that it can be fatally poisonous if eaten raw or undercooked. To escape the Conquistadors, the oppressed natives were known to commit suicide by eating raw cassava.
Top 20 Cassava Producing Countries
|Rank||Area||Production Value Of Cassava (in tons)|
|7||Democratic Republic of the Congo||14,611,911|
|12||United Republic of Tanzania||4,755,160|