Manihot escuelenta (Euphorbiaceae)
Cassava is farmed as a source of staple starch in tropical areas around the world, from tropical South America to tropical Africa to India, the Philippines, southeast Asia and the South Pacific.
Cultivation and Nutritional content
Cassava is inexpensive and easy to grow and propagate in tropical climates. It is the staple of choice in areas where grains cannot be grown easily.
Cassava is high in starch and low in protein. Due to toxic cyanide that occurs in the root, "bitter" cassava needs to be boiled, soaked and/or fermented before it can be safely eaten. "Sweet" varieties need to be cooked, but can first be ground into a meal (farinha in African countries, or tapioca in Asian countries).
Center of Diversity and Cultures that use Cassava
In South America, Cassava is eaten as a boiled and/or fried starchy root vegetable. It can also be dried and ground into a flour called farinha meal.
In Africa, fermented cassava root pulp is called GARI.
In Asia, cassava is made into small balls of tapioca.
Cassava preparation in Ghana
Cassava Replacing Cash Crops
Keaney, Mark. Royal Seed School. Chopping and Grinding Cassasva for Dinner (YouTube video).
Levetin, E. and K. McMahon. 2012. Plants and Society, 6th ed. McGraw Hill Publ. , pp. 225-231.
Radiance Recipes. Chili Garlic Cassava Chips. http://radiancerecipes.com/chilli-garlic-cassava-chips/ (photo #3)
Rite: the station for agric and social development. www.ritefmonline.org (photo #2)
Wagner, Holly. 2003. Researchers get to the root of cassava's cyanide producing abilities. Ohio State Research. http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/cassava.htm