Impact of CIAT’s cassava research

15 May, 2012 by (comments)

Since CIAT’s establishment 45 years ago, its scientists have built up an extraordinary record of science, by researching and generating technologies, crop management practices, and new knowledge that better enable farmers, especially smallholders, to improve their crop production systems, increase their incomes and sustainably manage natural resources.

In recent days, we released the first post about the Impacts of CIAT’s collaborative research, where we presented the impact of common bean research and the success story of climbing beans in Rwanda. This time we share CIAT’s main achievements in cassava, particularly in Asia, since the late 1990s.


  • By the late 1990s, improved cassava varieties were being planted to about 7% of the total area in LAC, 18% in Africa,2 and 23% in Asia, withyield increases ranging from 20 to 130%, depending on the region.
  • The gross economic value generated by improved cassava was estimated at almost US$440 million in 1998, with an internal rate of return in the range of 9 to 22% . An estimated 10 to 15 million rural households had benefitted by the late 1990s.
  • According to more recent estimates, the adoption of improved varieties resulting from CIAT research conducted in partnership with national scientists has reached nearly 90% in Thailand and Vietnam. The production increases resulting from higher yields have generated benefits worth almost $12 billion over the last 20 years.

The Making of Asia’s Cassava Boom

The impact of cassava research in Southeast Asia was made possible by extraordinary changes in the role of this starchy root. Having served the region for centuries as a secondary food crop, cassava became, from the 1970s on, a preferred raw material for the production of animal feed and of starch for a wide variety of industrial uses.

Researchers perceived in this transformation a huge opportunity for smallholder cassava farmers to raise their incomes by catering to diverse and expanding markets. The governments of Thailand, Vietnam, and China invested in cassava research and extension, taking advantage of CIAT training and its strategic work in the region on plant breeding and crop management. The private sector began to support cassava research as well because of its financial stake in maintaining a large and steady supply of cassava roots.

Responding to market stimulus, farmers have greatly expanded the cassava area – by more than a third across the region – and widely adopted improved cassava clones and agronomic practices, which have doubled yields, on average. The cash farmers are now pocketing as a result creates benefits that are evident in small rural communities across the region.

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Filed Under: Asia @en, Cassava @en, Crop diversity, Crops @en, Regions