Is Cassava the answer?

From Zambian Economist Mon Feb 11 2013, 01:39:00

Helen Zulu writes in the Times of Zambia that escalating mealie meal prices may be solved by increasing cassava production as a substitute for maize. It could help to stabilise the escalating mealie meal prizes as cassava has many advantages when compared with maize both from the agronomic perspective as well as its multiple economic uses. It is also relatively more drought tolerant than maize.

Cassava production has actually been growing rapidly since the early 1990s, as farmers have sought to diversify their food staple production out of maize and into cassava. The removal of heavy subsidies for maize production and marketing coupled with the government withdrawal of a guaranteed maize market, from the early 1990s onward, reduced incentives to grow maize, leading farmers to look for other more profitable crops. At the same time new varieties have come on stream with wider market appeal. Despite the progress, cassava remains extremely under-commercialised, and there are fears that unless the commercial market can be developed further it will all come to a stop.

According to FSRP research, a key constraint in commercialising cassava is the price. As a general rule of thumb, cassava substitution for maize becomes commercially attractive where the price of dried cassava lies about 60% to 70% of the price of maize in Zambia. A low cassava price, in turn, requires high on-farm productivity, low marketing costs and close proximity to processing facilities.

So as well as the need to accelerate expansion of improved cassava varieties and agronomic practices, we must tackle the proximity problem. Cassava price is normally higher than maize price because of the long distances cassava must transit from cassava producing areas (Luapula, Northern and North Western) to the feed and food industries in Copperbelt, Central and Lusaka provinces. Given the high cost of transport in ...

[view whole blog post ]
 See More    |     Report Abuse

You might also be interested in the following news stories:

Liberia:   Fears After New Ebola Fatality (news)
Al Jazeera
25 November 2015

A teenager has died in Liberia in the first such death since the country was officially declared free of the virus in September, according to an official. [read more]

Tanzania:   From Darkness to Light - How Miners Were Rescued After 41 Days (news)
Inter Press Service
25 November 2015

The five artisanal miners who narrowly escaped death last week after a 41-day ordeal in a collapsed gold mine in northern Tanzania called their experience a living hell. They went through a myriad of ... [read more]

Africa:   Agenda of Pope Francis' Five-Day Visit to Africa (news)
Radio France Internationale
25 November 2015

During the visits to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic, Pope Francis is expected to hold public masses, meet religious and political leaders and promote a message of reconciliation and ... [read more]

blogAfrica is's platform to help you keep an ear on the African blogosphere. We draw diverse voices from around the world who post regularly and insightfully about African issues. Bloggers, submit your blog's rss-feed!

Today's Featured News
Mozambique Ruling Party Faces Tough Contest

Renamo supporters: Ruling Frelimo faces a stern challenge at Wednesday's polls from...

Surge in Central African Republic Violence

African Union troops in Bangui (file photo): The UN has expressed alarm...

Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana Get Crucial Wins

Asamoah Gyan of Ghana (file photo): The Super Eagles have boosted their...