Shedding light on more efficient ways to breed cassava

Crop breeders are always looking for ways to improve a crop. They know that even small differences in quality and quantity can mean big differences in profits for farmers. So, making the breeding process faster and cheaper ...

Helping cassava farmers by extending crop life

The root vegetable cassava is a major food staple in dozens of countries across the world. Drought-resistant, nutritious, and tasty, it has also become a major source of income for small-scale, rural farmers in places like ...

Healthier tapioca starch is on the way

Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science (CSRS) in Japan have recently created a healthier form of starch in the cassava plant. Published in the scientific journal Plant Molecular Biology, the study ...

Liming and phosphorus increase cassava yields

Cassava is a vital source of calories for close to a billion people across the world. The plant is a woody, perennial shrub with edible roots. Cassava roots are rich in carbohydrates, potassium, calcium, vitamins B and C, ...

New insights on flowering could boost cassava crops

Two new publications examining cassava flowering reveal insights into the genetic and environmental factors underpinning one of the world's most critical food security crops.

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Cassava

Cassava (Manihot esculenta), also called yuca or manioc, a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family) native to South America, is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. It differs from the similarly-spelled yucca, an unrelated fruit-bearing plant.

Cassava is the third largest source of food carbohydrates in the world. Nigeria is the world's largest producer of cassava. It is classified as sweet or bitter, depending on the level of toxic cyanogenic glucosides. (However, bitter taste is not always a reliable measure.) Improper preparation of cassava can leave enough residual cyanide to cause acute cyanide intoxication and goiters, and has been linked to ataxia or partial paralysis. Nevertheless, farmers often prefer the bitter varieties because they deter pests, animals, and thieves. In some locations the more toxic varieties serve as a fall-back resource (a "food security crop") in times of famine.

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