In the sixteenth century, Portuguese traders from Brazil brought cassava (Manihot esculenta) to sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The crop is currently grown in 40 of the 53 SSA nations, making up 61% of worldwide output (Spencer and Ezedinma, 2017). In many nations in Africa and the tropics, cassava is a significant food crop. With an average annual per capita intake of 102 kilos, the crop plays an important role in the diets of more than 800 million people. It makes up more than 50% of people’s daily meals in several parts of Africa (Olusola Oyewol).
A major tropical root crop in West Africa, cassava is one of the most significant. In 2018, there were 169 million tons produced annually in Africa. With a total output of 93 million tons, West Africa dominated the globe in cassava production, accounting for 33.5% of global production and 55% of the continent’s total output (ECOWAS).
Cassava is traditionally prepared before eating. Processing is required for several reasons. First, it eliminates or reduces the cyanogenic glucosides, which are found in fresh cassava and might be hazardous. It also functions as a preservation tool. Third, processing produces goods with various qualities, which adds diversity to diets that include cassava (Olusola Oyewol). The crop can be used in its entirety. The storage root is used as a source of nutrition and starchy products as well as biofuels, while the leaves are rather rich in protein and may be consumed (ECOWAS).
The National Export Strategy in Côte d’Ivoire lists cassava as one of its top priority industries. The selection of this industry was based on its export potential, competitiveness standards, and socioeconomic effect, including the creation of jobs for both women and young people. Increasing the planted area under the cassava crop utilizing best practices is essential to improving production efforts to boost the cassava economy of Côte d’Ivoire. After the program’s work is done, Côte d’Ivoire’s cassava value chain will be improved, making it a top priority for export (WACOMP).
The projected total area used to grow cassava is 900,000 hectares, according to the Ghana Export Promotion Authority. Over 70% of farmers in Ghana work in the cassava industry, which accounts for roughly 22% of the country’s agricultural GDP. The government’s extensive policy efforts to promote economic growth, support the private sector, and create new employment possibilities, particularly for the youth and women, are in line with the action to make the cassava value chain a priority area in Ghana. The intervention is completely in line with the National Environmental Protection Agency’s developmental dimension and the regional industrialization priority setting, which places a strong emphasis on the agricultural sector and emphasizes the value-added processing of local raw materials and its contribution to GDP (NEPAD).
For investments in cassava value addition, such as gari, cassava flour, superior cassava starches, and adhesives, Liberia offers a solid foundation. Cassava has been highlighted by the Liberia Agricultural Transformation Agenda (LATA) as one of the most important agricultural items that need attention. The development of Liberia’s cassava industry can have a considerable positive impact on the agro-food, non-food, poultry, and livestock industries in addition to enhancing food security. Additionally, it may greatly aid in the empowerment of women and young people, who account for the majority of smallholder farmers and conduct more than 80% of trade in rural regions (LATA).
The crop’s capacity to generate money for small-scale farmers and associated value chains in Africa is growing, and it has a great deal of potential to support the continent’s development. To improve cassava quality and output, both must be increased. Technological advancements have a huge ability to bring about the desired transformation (Kayondo et.al., 2021).
Cassava average productivity on the continent is 9.1 t/ha, which is significantly lower than the average cassava fresh root output (21.5 t/ha) observed in Asia, despite recent improvements, mostly owing to an increase in crop area (Spencer and Ezedinma, 2017; FAOSTAT, 2020). Increased cassava production in sub-Saharan Africa is required to meet the anticipated rise in demand for the crop’s food and non-food items and to fully realize the crop’s immense potential (Khandare and Choomsook, 2019; Otekunrin and Sawicka, 2019; FAOSTAT, 2020).
Most important crops have seen a substantial rise in yield thanks to conventional breeding’s effectiveness in producing an ongoing supply of superior cultivars (Prohens, 2011). Traditional cassava breeding focuses on phenotype-based recurrent selection, which requires the generation of full-sib and/or half-sib progenies followed by sequential clonal selection phases, such as single-row trials, preliminary, advanced, and uniform yield trials (Ceballos et al., 2016). Conventional breeding has resulted in the development and distribution of several cassava cultivars (Malik et al., 2020).
When many characteristics are being chosen simultaneously, new techniques and technologies have the potential to increase the effectiveness of traditional breeding. Especially in light of climate change, diminishing resources, land scarcity, and rising food demand, modernizing breeding programs through the use of novel methods is essential for more effective agriculture. Enhancing genetic gain, accelerating the creation of superior cultivars, and having an influence on smallholder farmers’ livelihoods are all potential outcomes of modern genomic technologies and biotechnology (Frontiers, 2021).
To improve crops via breeding, genetic variety is of utmost importance. Compared to elite accessions, landraces have been found to have somewhat higher genetic diversity, which is characteristic of most crops (Ferguson et al., 2019). As breeders start introducing variation that reacts better to market tastes, the gene pool of pre-breeding germplasm is expected to grow more varied.
To increase the production and profitability of cassava across the continent, technological improvements must be applied effectively. In Sub-Saharan Africa, national institutes and academic institutions have mostly concentrated their genetic research on the characterization of the germplasm, evaluation of the genetic diversity, identification of the varietal, linkage mapping, and traditional QTL mapping (Fregene et al., 1997; Kawuki et al., 2009; Rabbi et al., 2015; Adjebeng-Danquah et al., 2020). Recent increases in the number of genome-wide association studies have been attributed to collaborative initiatives including international organizations, NARS, and donor communities, as well as significant financing from these groups.
For the agricultural change in Africa, a sustained capacity for research and innovation is essential (Ojijo et al., 2016). Cassava breeding initiatives with adequate technological critical mass are not well-funded in the majority of African national agricultural research systems (NARS). Many operations regularly assess and increase imported clones from bigger breeding programs (i.e., from IITA or CIAT). Although the majority of NARS would continue to have some capacity to create and release varieties that were tailored to local agro-ecologies and tastes, their breeding capabilities still need to be improved and updated to be successful.
Numerous technical advancements are novel to NARS, and it might be difficult to get access to tools, reagents, and qualified workers (Tester and Langridge, 2010). To spread and facilitate the transfer of tried-and-true techniques, processes, technologies, and products, a project known as the Cassava Community of Practice and Partnership (CoPP) has been formed under the NextGen Cassava Project.
Initial technical support is given by the CoPP, which also promotes teamwork, makes connections easier, and offers members the chance to learn from one another. As a result, NARS will be able to incorporate modern technical advancements, develop best practices and processes, and improve breeding efficiency, all of which will have a wider and more significant impact. Technical knowledge is necessary for the effective integration and use of novel technology. By strengthening their expertise and skills, NARS may scale up its research capacities (Bull et al., 2011).
The creation of better cassava cultivars takes time. Utilizing genomic information has made it easier to profile breeding materials and assess regional and local genetic variation. Traditional trait assessment is being replaced by new phenotyping methods, which have been applied to marker-trait relationships and allowed for the identification of several QTLs for important characteristics. Genetic architecture is still not fully understood, despite substantial advancements, particularly for less complicated features. Phenotypic plasticity and the challenging nature of phenotypic assessment add to the complexity of features that are quantitatively inherited. Expanding multi-environment assessment is necessary (Frontiers, 2021).
It is essential to create sophisticated, precise cassava phenotyping methods with high throughput. It is necessary to translate the data into workable breeding techniques and unified biological understanding. The development of validated trait markers should take the use of QTL results. Setting priorities will be necessary to guarantee a return on investment. As a result, it is necessary to design a formal promotion system with clear metrics. Monitoring of genetic gain should be done regularly. Strategies must be continuously updated as priorities change and new difficulties arise (Frontiers, 2021).
Farmers may maximize cassava yields and reduce production costs by utilizing these enhanced crop management techniques. Additionally, they help to safeguard the local ecosystem. An improvement in the cassava products’ quality and market value is the expected outcome.
- Bakare, O. Micro and small scale investment opportunity in West Africa.
- Ezui, K., Giller, K., Franke, A., & Mando, A. Understanding the productivity of cassava in West Africa.
- Guo, Y. (2020). Closing yield gap of cassava for food security in West Africa. Nature Food, 1(6), 325-325.
- Marenya, M., Bobobee, E., Yakanu, P., & Ochanda, J. (2020). THE TEK MECHANICAL CASSAVA HARVESTER DEVELOPMENT IN GHANA – CHALLENGES, OPPORTUNITIES AND PROSPECTS FOR CASSAVA PRODUCTION IN AFRICA.
- Nweke, F. (1994). Cassava Processing in Sub-Saharan Africa: the Implications for Expanding Cassava Production. Outlook On Agriculture, 23(3), 197-205.
- Potential of Cassava processing in West Africa – WATHI.
- THE CASSAVA TRANSFORMATION IN AFRICA – Food and Agriculture Organization.
- The potential of West African mango and cassava production.
- Understanding the productivity of cassava in West Africa.
- https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320092758/figure/fig1/AS:[email protected]/Schematic-of-a-conventional-cassava-breeding-cycle-Arrows-between-trials-indicate-the.png
- https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Oladele-Kolawole/publication/346719354/figure/fig1/AS:[email protected]/Cote-dIvoire-cassava-production-from-1961-to-2016-FAO-data-2017-Source-FAOSTAT-2017.png