Because it grows easily, has large yields and is little affected by diseases and pests, the areas under cassava cultivation are increasing rapidly. The plant is grown for its edible tubers, which serve as a staple food in many tropical countries and are also the source of an important starch. Its value as a famine relief crop has long been recognized. In parts of the Far East during the Second World War many people survived on cassava roots. Now grown throughout the tropical world, cassava is second only to the sweet potato as the most important starchy root crop of the tropics.
Fresh cassava roots are currently consumed in four ways: naturally, and as products processed in the home, by traditional means, or by industry.
- Human consumption. Although cassava roots are usually not consumed raw because they contain poisonous cyanogenic glucosides, they are eaten immediately after simple and economical processing. The roots of sweet cassava varieties, that is, those with low contents of cyanogenic glucosides, are chosen and cooked as vegetables: boiled, fried, steamed, or baked.
- Animal feed. Animals such as pigs and ruminants are either fed the roots directly after simple processing to eliminate toxicity or mixed with nutritional supplements.
Home processing, carried out in the home kitchen, refers to products made from cassava but mixed with other ingredients, for example, desserts, breads, biscuits, puddings, beverages, soups, and main dishes.
Traditional, Processed Products
Rural producers have developed numerous procedures to stabilize and eliminate cassava’s toxic qualities. This has led to a great variety of traditional products, which fall into three main groups:
- Dry products: fermented or non-fermented flours, dry-cooked cassava.
- Semi-moist products: boiled cassava, fermented pastes.
- Wet products: fermented or non-fermented beverages.
Processing Fresh Roots
Changes generated by the urbanization of consumer habits and preferences, urban migration, and the increased number of women entering the job market have increased demand for products that are easy and quick to prepare. They have also resulted in reduced consumption of fresh cassava in urban centers and have recently presented entrepreneurs with an opportunity to introduce different products and presentations of fresh cassava roots, such as:
- Frozen pieces (either fresh and vacuum-packed, precooked)
- Cassava cakes and pudding (click for recipe)
- Fried cassava or cassava chips (click for recipe)
These products are destined for those urban consumers of average and higher strata, restaurants, and fast-food outlets who can pay higher prices. Although, the market for these products is expanding, it is still not as large as that for fresh cassava.
Read the full scholarly article on cassava processing from FAO. (If you can’t access the site, email me for the pdf file.)
1. Cassava cultivation (The plant, Agricultural practices, Mechanization)
2. Cassava flour and starch (Supply of cassava roots, Processing operations, Extraction of starch from dried cassava roots)
3. Baked tapioca products (Preparation of wet flour, Gelatinization, Drying)
4. Cassava products for animal feeding (Chips, Broken roots, Pellets, Meal, Residual pulp)
5. Cassava starch factories (Power, Water, Types of factories, Establishment of a cassava starch factory)
- Cassava in the human diet
- Cassava starch and its uses
- Cassava in composite flours
- Cassava in animal feed
- Nonfood uses
- Particle board from cassava stalks
- Fermented products
- Competitive position of cassava
- Analysis of basic materials
- Criteria for quality of flour and starch
- Analysis of baked products
- Specifications for particular uses
8. World production and trade of cassava products (Exports, Imports, Distribution and transport, Recommendations)
9. Development of the cassava-processing industry and its future (Production, Processing and marketing, Future of the cassava industry)
- Methods and specifications for determining the quality of cassava flours
- Specifications for dextrin
- Specifications for starch
- Standards for cassava chips and manioc meal in Thailand
- List of processing equipment for a cassava starch factory producing 24 tons per day
- Fao studies
sources: ciat.cgiar.org, fao.org, picture from page.freett.com