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New cassava varieties

Several new cassava varieties are currently being evaluated in Region Nine to determine other uses for the tuber to add value and boost hinterland agriculture.

Director of the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), Dr Oudho Homenauth said too government had recently disbursed mechanical graters and presses to several hinterland communities in regions one and nine in order to achieve this goal.

In April, NARI started using cassava as a source of feed for poultry after an experimental product was sent to the US for testing to determine its nutritional value, a press release from the Government Information Agency (GINA) said. The cassava including the skin was sliced into thin pieces and sun dried which will cause it to break easily, and then grounded into flour. The flour can then be used as a substitute for corn and rice.

GINA said a workshop was also held to implement a strategy to start a cassava enterprise and industry development.

The initiative is intended to diversify commodities aimed at improving income, livelihood and reduce income vulnerability, benefiting small farmers especially in the commodity chain.

It is based on an agriculture commodities programme that was launched in Jamaica and is part of a joint venture by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture. NARI is also working with Bounty Farm, its private sector partner in this venture.

GINA also said government has joined CLAYUCA, a Latin American and Caribbean Consortium for cassava based in Cali, Colombia in order to benefit from technical and other assistance on this venture.

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