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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Cassava is foodstuff, industrial raw material

Cassava has been identified as crucial to food security for millions of Africans, and now the shrub’s potential for industrial purposes is being considered, says a professor at the school of molecular and cell biology,Wits University South Africa. Prof. Chrissie Rey, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Speaking on the versatility of the crop, Prof. Rey said its used in several products including flour, paper, textiles, food additives and animal feed.

"The main thrust of cassava in South Africa is for industrial purposes and the use of biotechnology to improve the crop for agro-processing," noted Prof. Rey who has been studying the shrub since the 1980s.

According to Rey,other countries on the continent have always been interested in cassava for food security but all cassava-growing countries are getting interested in its industrial potential.

Rey says herinterest on studying the plant was because its roots are a valuable source of starch. "The need for root-based starch will rise in the next 50 years. Cassava is a potentially valuable crop and the South African government is interested in exploring that potential for small-scale and commercial farmers," she says.

The crop is also used to produce bio-ethanol, which is used in small stoves instead of paraffin. The bio-ethanol produced from cassava is cleaner for the environment, she pointed out.

Cyriacus Nnaji/GEE

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Pix: Cassava tubers

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