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Cassava Crop

The Crop was introduced to Uganda through Tanzania by Arab traders between 1862 and 1875. Its Cultivation greatly increased between 1931 and 1933 and subsequently became a cheap source of food. It ranks second after banans among the major food crops, regarded as the most important cheap source of staple food and cash crop. Its flexibility in the farming and food systems, ability to do well in marginally stressed environments and apparent resistance/tolerance to pests and diseases encouraged its rapid spread and adoption. It is presently grown throughout the country. The recent mosaic epidemic has however curtailed the spread of the crop.

It is estimated that Uganda produces more 3million metric tonnes of raw cassava. It is also estimated that about 200,000 metric tonnes of cassava flour is consumed in Uganda.

Varieties of Cassava

The varieties of Cassava like NASE 1, NASE 2, NASE 3, NASE 4, NASE 10 and NASE 12. that have been planted in the past in Uganda are very susceptible to two diseases mosaic and brown streak. These diseases are spread rapidly, and pose a serious threat to food security in Uganda and elsewhere. A range of both hard and soft technologies have been developed through a concerted interdisciplinary and inter-institutional approach Todate, 9 varieties have been officially released and they are Nase 1, Nase 2, Nase 3, Nase 4, Nase 5, Nase 6, Nase 7, Nase 8, and Nase 9.

Importance of Cassava

The cassava can be used in the following ways:

• Cassava is a stable food for a number of household. Peeled Sweet Cassava roots are eaten raw, boiled, fried, and roasted. It can be eaten in the form of cassava Chips.
• Dry cassava to produce flour for food. The flour which can be used alone or as a composite with Millet, Sorghum, Maize flour to make a meal.
• Dry Cassava stems are used as Firewood.
• Cassava can used to make animal and poultry feeds and in the manufacture of plywood.
• Cassava starch is used to produce Synthetic Glues that are used as adhesives in Plywood Production.
• Cassava starch is used in Sizing, Finishing and Printing of Textile.
• Cassava flour is distilled to make local beer for household consumption
• It is a source of cash
• Fresh cassava roots may be sliced, because in Uganda we grow Cassava, mostly for food Grated, fermented or pounded, then dried and further processed into dried chips and balls.
• Cassava leaves are edible and provide Nutrition values similar to other Green leaf vegetable that are good.
• Cassava is a source of vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, and protein.
• Cassava can also be used to make soft drink, malt Beer, spirits and ethanol in Industries.
• High quality Cassava flour can used as a substitute for wheat by up to 30% in the making of Bread, Cakes, Biscuits and other Confectionaries and Pastries.
• Cassava starch can be used in Confectionary Industries, automotive and dry cell batteries, petroleum drilling, paint, pharmaceuticals, adhesives, iron ore mining, foundry, paper, soap and detergent, packaging, and cosmetic industries. Starch when subjected to an acid or enzyme can be used to derive sweet substances called starch hydrolysates which include glucose, sucrose, maltose, fructose, and syrup.
• Cassava starch can also be heated in a dry form with an acid or alkali to
Produce dextrin’s which are sold as powders, granules, and pastes adhesives are made by cooking a dextrin in water. Adhesives are used in making corrugated boxes, sealing cartons, grocery, and multi -wall bags in the packaging industry; for lamination in plywood, paperboard, foot wear, and cables industries making of paper tubes, cans and cones.

Challenges facing cassava production

The following are the challenges facing cassava production:

• The use of inferior low yielding varieties by the farmers
• Lack of good quality planting material
• Pests such as Cassava mealy bug (CM), green spider mite (CGM)
• Diseases, including the current pandemic of Cassava mosaic viruses (CMV), Cassava bacterial blight (CBB) and anthracnose (CAD)
• Labour bottlenecks and poor cultural practices
• Lucosides which hinder Cassava utilisation
• Bulkiness and Perishability affecting Commercialisation of the Crop
• Poor methods of utilisation.

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