Manihot esculenta (Cassava)

Abstract

Cassava (Manihot esculenta) is the world's seventh most important crop in terms of production and provides the staple food for more than 500 million people in the humid tropics. Owing to its ability to survive adverse environmental conditions and its high efficiency at fixing CO2 into carbohydrate compared with other crops, cassava has a vital role to play in a planet faced with the interrelated challenges of population growth, food scarcity, fuel shortage and climate change. Despite these advantages, cassava storage roots are nutritionally deficient, cyanogenic, deteriorate rapidly on harvest and the crop is prone to pests and diseases. However, through exploiting germplasm diversity, breeding and biotechnology many of these challenges can be addressed for the benefit of producers, processers and consumers.

Key Concepts:

  • Cassava storage roots are the staple food of hundreds of millions in the humid tropics.

  • Owing to its drought tolerance and ability to grow on impoverished soils cassava is a vitally important famine reserve crop in subā€Saharan Africa.

  • Breeding and biotechnology can address the current limitations of cassava in order to make it a more productive, versatile and nutritious crop.

  • Enhanced germplasm combined with improved agronomic practice can enable cassava to make a significant contribution to global food security.

  • In addition to food, cassava is processed into industrial products and is of increasing interest for biofuel production.

Keywords: cassava; Manihot esculenta ; drought tolerance; cyanogenesis; starch; carbohydrate; food security; biotechnology; biofuel

Figure 1.

Production of major crops including cassava: (a) The world's top 10 crops, (b) Africa's top 10 crops, (c) cassava production from 1990 to 2010; (d) cassava yield from 1990 to 2010.

Data from FAOSTAT 2013.
Figure 2.

Cassava plant: (a) 8 month‐old cassava, variety Adira, in the field, (b) eight‐month‐old Adira, (c) male flower, (d) cassava storage roots, (e) female flower, (f) fruit.

All photographs taken in Indonesia and generously provided by Fathoni A.
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Further Reading

Hillocks RJ , Thresh JM and Bellotti AC (2002) Cassava: Biology, Production and Utilization. Wallingford: CABI.

Special Cassava Issue (2001) Euphytica 120(1): 1–165.

Special Cassava Issue (2001) Plant Molecular Biology 56(5): 481–688.

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How to Cite close
Beeching, John R(Nov 2013) Manihot esculenta (Cassava). In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0023710]