Handbook passes the baton of cassava knowledge to a new generation of researchers
That’s right: everything you need to know about cassava, in a single book. But that should in no way belittle this 800-page tome.
The Cassava Handbook is an in-depth, exhaustive – but by no means exhausting – compendium of nearly four decades of CIAT research into one of the world’s most important – yet criminally unsung – food and industrial crops grown by smallholders.
It’s also free to read online.
Regular readers of the CIAT blog will be well aware that cassava feeds hundreds of millions of people in Africa every day. Millions of smallholders in Asia also produce it for the starch industry, and for millions more in Latin America, it’s a key food staple.
It’s also the “Rambo root” – capable of surviving the tough climatic conditions that other crops are unable to tolerate. It might also be on the brink breaking into the mainstream of crop research, with increasing interest from major donors.
Funded by The Nippon Foundation – a vital, long-term supporter of CIAT cassava research in Southeast Asia – The Cassava Handbook is the result of a two-year-long labour of love by former CIAT cassava scientist and CIAT emeritus Reinhardt Howeler, who dedicated his career to improving smallholder cassava production in the region.
“It’s an attempt to review and summarize the nearly 40 years of cassava research, and to bring together this information in one publication that can serve as a reference manual for those charged with current and future research on cassava,” said Howeler.
“As cassava is now becoming a very important, and mostly industrial, crop in Asia, there are many new opportunities, but also a host of new problems and challenges. These include the appearance in Asia of new cassava diseases and pests; the decreasing availability and increasing cost of rural labor, resulting in the need for partial or complete mechanization of cassava production; the rapidly increasing demand for cassava roots for production of food, feed and fuel, and the unavailability in many countries of new land for any expansion of cassava area, thus requiring a rapid increase in cassava yields to increase supplies.
“This requires a renewed focus on cassava research for the development of new higher-yielding varieties and more sustainable production practices.”