IPB College Studentt Production "Mo Mie" from Cassava

JAKARTA - Students Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) re-discover innovations of modern food products ready-named "Mo Mie".

These foods are also meant to ensure diversification. What is Mo Mie ? Mo Mie is the "instant noodles" are made from raw cassava starch modified or Modified Cassava Flour (MOCAF) and Tempe flour. Tempe or Tempeh is a traditional soy product originally from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process.

Selection of cassava as raw material Mo Mie is quite reasonable. Given the cassava crop is one of considerable potential in Indonesia as a source of carbohydrate, whose production is not optimal because it is still considered less economical.

Meanwhile, the addition of “Tempe flour” as a food source of protein, because protein content in the noodles is considered quite low.

Therefore, Mo Noodles has several advantages compared with other instant noodles, which is due to high protein content and safe to eat.

There are three types of products "Mo Mie" offered by the "dry Mo Mie”, Mo Mie Spaghetti, and Mo Mie Sozzilatos.

As is known, instant noodles commonly consumed by people are usually made from raw wheat flour. The use of wheat flour in Indonesia is quite high in the manufacture of instant noodles. It was proven that Indonesia as a country both the consumption of instant noodles per year based on the world's largest wheat. Whereas in Indonesia wheat flour is obtained by importing from abroad.

"It is therefore necessary to develop a cassava-based new food products to enhance the economic value of cassava as an alternative substitute for flour and food diversification efforts," said Nur Hasanah Laeli, students of the Department of Community Nutrition Faculty of Human Ecology (FEMA) IPB, which conducted the study “Mo Mie, in Jakarta.

Laeli along with four colleagues said, that a food product should pay attention to food safety aspects.

One is the use of food preservatives should be in accordance with the recommended standard of government. Therefore, instant noodles their research results free of preservatives are dangerous because in the manufacturing process does not use harmful chemicals.

"Looking from the aspect of nutrient content and secure, instant noodles really support the food needs of the world community," said Megawati Simanjuntak, Supervisor of this research.

Laeli further explained, MOCAF is a product derived from cassava to cassava by fermentation modification principles. MOCAF contribute little protein so the protein source material needed to boost the protein content in the noodles.

One good source of protein and enough potential in Indonesia is Tempe, because Tempe is able to compete with animal protein in terms of quality, quantity and price. Additionally, Tempe is rich in amino acid lysine. Therefore, the addition of Tempe flour as a protein source is expected to improve the nutritional value MOCAF-flour noodle mixture.

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Mortgaging of cassava to begin quickly

The government next month will start a loan programme for 15 million tonnes of cassava at costs among 2.70 and 3.00 baht a kilogramme.

Deputy Commerce Minister Poom Sarapol mentioned the programme may begin on Nov 15 and run for 6 months with tiered prices ranging from 2.70 baht a kg in November. The worth will increase via 5 satang each month for cassava roots with 25% starch content.

The current value of contemporary cassava roots is between 2.20 and 2.30 baht a kilogramme.

The ministry in advance anticipated a funds of 10 billion baht for the production of as much as 6 million tonnes. Nevertheless, the subcommittee on advertising and marketing of tapioca agreed it needs to be extended to cover 15 million tonnes of the harvest so the funds must be enlarged.

"The specified price range may be large but precise spending could be decrease than that quantity as recent cassava roots are in demand in the market, and farmers can promote directly to traders. They do not must pledge with the federal government," stated Mr Poom.

The problem might be thought of by the Nationwide Tapioca Committee next week and later via the cabinet.

Thailand is expected to produce no less than 20 million tonnes of cassava roots this 12 months, a slight drop from 21 million final year. Production is decrease than demand, which is forecast at 26 million tonnes, of which 15 million are to be used for starch manufacturing, 10 million for tapioca chips and 1 million for ethanol.

Tapioca is a key crop for the nation, growing jobs and revenue for more than 500,000 households, with plantation spaces of almost 7 million rai.

The ministry is also making an attempt to shore up rice costs by a mortgage scheme, and it pronounced 115,096 tonnes of unmilled white rice have been pledged with the government after the legit release on Oct 7. Aromatic rice shall be harvested on the finish of November.

Permanent secretary Yanyong Phuangrach mentioned that of the 671 millers joining the programme, solely 231 were currently accepting paddy from farmers. They are unfold amongst 34 provinces with a high concentration within the crucial region.

Farmers have complained about costs being negotiated down as a consequence of high moisture content.

The ministry will mill all paddy pledged inside 10 days and require the delivery of all milled rice and damaged rice to the Public Warehouse Agency and Advertising Organisation for Farmers. Millers will get 500 baht a tonne for the milling cost.

He stated millers with inventory volumes too low for supply may seek permission to lengthen milling by one week.

Paddy value is steady because the floods are more seemingly to harm paddy manufacturing greater than last week's estimation.

"I wish to ask the marketplace to accept that the loan price [15,000 baht for white rice] is suitable as Thai farmers have misplaced a significant amount from the floods. They planted two times however can only harvest one crop," mentioned Mr Yanyong.

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FG kicks off cassava transformation action plan

ABUJA- The federal Government, Tuesday, kicked off its Cassava Transformation Motion Plan, CTAP, to increase income by at least $450 yearly of about 1.eight million farmers and create 1.2 million jobs in the cassava sub- sector of the nation’s financial system in the next 4 years.

Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who disclosed this in Abuja, additionally announced the obligatory substitution of 10 per cent of High Quality Cassava Flour, HQCF, into composite wheat flour for bread baking in Nigeria.

The Minister, who made this identified on the kick-off programme in Abuja, said the 1.2 million jobs could be created by means of a doubling of production, processing and advertising of cassava within the cassava-rising belt of the country.

He stated under the motion plan, cassava farming could be run as an funding, not as challenge with the state governments, adding that the Federal Authorities will move step by step into more organised cassava sector and set up Cassava Market and Commerce Development Company, CMTDC, to coordinate farmers and provide marketplace for their produces.

“To construct around farm clusters market institutions for long run sustainable growth of the cassava sector by way of the institution of a Cassava Market and Commerce Improvement Corporation (CMTDC),” he said.

Adesina recognized lack of access to farm inputs, unavailability of market to little produces and low stage of expertise of farmers in Nigeria as main hindrances compelling farmers to sow in hope and reap with tears in the country.

He lamented that only eleven % of farmers in Nigeria get fertilizer and that the fertilizer was of the low high quality, in contrast with other nations, noting that they had been working to place in place necessary things wanted for them to put them out of dungeon and boost meals manufacturing within the country.

His phrases: “It can be crucial as a result of science has prove it that with 10% you possibly can have great bread, I do know our flour mills went by way of hell, but they need to understand that we face a particular problem. Right now, our farmers can’t discover a market for cassava, their income is dropping, unemployment is rising whereas we flood this place with imported flour.

“I've talked to them, I'll rise up for the interest of farmers of this country; I don’t assume it is too much to ask for 10%, the federal government has three options, it may well ban wheat, enhance the tariff on wheat or flour import or use 10 % substitution inside baking bread. That 10% substitution alone is four hundred,000 metric tons of top of the range cassava flooring and 1.6million metric tons of cassava tuber.

“We've got reached agreement with flour mills industry a week ago, I’m happy with that. We should build Nigeria and add worth to what we produce and create work for our personal farmers. With that 10% substitution going forward and the cassava transformation motion plan is how flip again agreement into fast motion on the state degree, organising the farmer and cassava processors, to see that there's contractual agreement between them and ensuring that the settlement is fulfilled.

“We're going to monitor it very intently as a result of it is in regards to the farmers of this nation, not about any physique else. I'll wish to ask for state commissioners as they work with the cassava transformation staff put collectively a frame work for close monitoring.

“In every country, whether or not in Netherlands or Brazil, I'm very sure you will not see the farmers with hoes and cutlasses, you'll not find farmers which are poor, they're supported earlier than planting, even after planting, they are supported in term of stabilizing the prices.

“However Nigerian farmers don't have any support around them it's as if you have any person, you placed on a rickety boat within the Atlantic ocean and you say sail or sink. Farmers on this nation have been deserted and they're unable to benefit from they commodity they produced.

“These are a few of the reasons they haven't been in a position to profit from the new technology. Should you have a look at the cassava we're speaking about at this time, the foundation and tubers usually are not too good, compared with Brazil. Basically, they haven't been in a position to get entry to the know-how that can elevate their productivity. Subsequently, Nigerian farmers usually are not with the ability to compete.

“Secondly, they aren't gaining access to most elementary inputs, fertilizer. In case you look across the country in the present day, the government’s assist for farmers is fertilizer but solely eleven percent of the farmers really get it. So, because of that, the typical level of use of fertilizer within the country is simply 14 kilogram per hectare. That 14 kg/ per hectare is so low, compared to those that we are competing towards, the global average is a hundred kg per hectare.

Talking on the memory and future of cassava manufacturing in Nigeria, Deputy Director Root and Tuber Crops, Dr. Victor Odeyemi, defined that the ten% Excessive Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) composite wheat flour was introduced by Obasanjo’s administration but was not revered by millers as a result of it was a coverage assertion without authorized backing.

“In order to ensure that produced tubers are processed, he (Obasanjo) introduced the inclusion of 10% high quality cassava flour into composite wheat flour. Many SMEs for HCQF had been put in place within a short period. “Nevertheless, many of them soon closed as a result of non-patronage by millers because the ten% was a coverage statement without any legal backing.

“That is where we're at present and on this , the present administration is constructing on by ensuring legal backing for every coverage and make agriculture a business which shall be private-sector driven, using 1000's of individuals along the value chain and ensuring meals safety,” he said.

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IPB college students develop cassava noodle

JAKARTA: Bogor Agricultural College (IPB) college students have developed Mo Mie, an on the spot noodle created from cassava and tempeh flour.

Laeli Nur Hasanah, a pupil in IPB’s public health division, advised information portal that her workforce developed the noodle to diversify staple foods, find replacements for flour and to improve the economic value of cassava.

Manufacturing of cassava, an Indonesian staple, has been stymied by its low economic value. The scholars added the tempeh for protein.

Mo Mie can be a substitute for conventional flour-primarily based immediate noodles, Laeli said. Indonesia is the world’s second largest flour-based on the spot noodle shopper, regardless of being a web flour importer.

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DA to spice up cassava production in 3 ARMM provinces

ZAMBOANGA CITY, The Department of Agriculture (DA) will distribute 46 units of cassava grater and presser to the three island provinces of the Autonomous Area in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to boost cassava manufacturing in these areas.

The cassava graters and pressers, which were promised by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, can be distributed before the year ends to the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Edgardo Tabal, regional Agricultural Extension Program Division officer-in-charge, mentioned the distribution of the tools would help the cassava farmers within the three ARMM provinces enhance their income.

Cassava is plentiful within the three provinces as a lot of the farmers plant the crop as their main livelihood in addition to for domestic consumption.

Cassava is broadly grown within the three provinces among the various crops on alluvial, sloping and foothill areas, and some farmers intercrop it with coconut or with upland rice and corn.

Dr. Algerico Mariscal of the Philippine Root Crops Analysis and Training Center in Leyte State College said that the ARMM has the most important consumption of cassava within the nation based on the data of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics.

ARMM is followed by Zamboanga Peninsula, Bicol, Northern Mindanao, Sorsogon, and the Nationwide Capital Area, Mariscal said.

Tabal said cassava is included as one of many country’s major crops and is also identified beneath the DA’s Food Staple and Stability Program instead that will scale back rice importation.

Cassava may be processed into totally different food products with increased economic value.

Cassava can also be used within the manufacture of commercial products like as a raw materials within the manufacturing of ethanol aside from being used as food and feed ingredients.

Tabal said they just lately performed a Expertise Coaching and Program Orientation on Cassava for Meals Undertaking in this city.

The topics included cassava varieties for meals, cropping system, cultural management, postharvest practices, and cassava meals preparations.

Except for Mariscal, the coaching’s different useful resource speaker was Dr. Candido Damo, nationwide cassava project chief of DA.

Damo said the DA has set a separate funding help to promote cassava and different root crops as major products.

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Lethal cyanide present in cassava

Cassava based mostly merchandise are establishing a growing foothold in the Australian well being meals market, nevertheless, new analysis reveals that some imported merchandise comprise harmful levels of the poison cyanide.

A staple meals for around 800 million folks, the root of the cassava plant, when not correctly processed, accommodates cyanide, which might cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, weak spot and death.

New analysis carried out by Asssociate Professor Ros Gleadow, Dr Anna Burns and Dr Timothy Cavagnaro of Monash University’s College of Organic Sciences, along with Dr J. Howard Bradbury from the Australian Nationwide University, examined the cyanide content of a number of merchandise presently obtainable in Melbourne and Canberra.

The testing occurred both earlier than and after the introduction by Meals Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) of a really helpful cyanide restrict of ten parts per million.

Affiliate Professor Gleadow stated the outcomes indicated that while highly processed merchandise and those manufactured in Australia since January 2011 adhered to food safety standards, some imported products contained comparatively high levels of the poison.

“Probably the most alarming instance of this trend is 262 ppm in a single brand of cassava chips. A baby weighing 20 kg would wish to eat 40g to 270g of these chips to succeed in the deadly dose - doubtlessly that’s only one bag of chips.

“The protection requirements are having a positive effect, nevertheless it’s not clear that there’s any testing or enforcement occurring, which is worrying. We would advocate the introduction of proper labelling and enforcement of the safety standards.”

Professor Gleadow mentioned that because cassava-based mostly meals was not extensively consumed in Australia, it was not perceived as a risk.

“If you happen to look to African and Asian nations, where cassava is a big a part of folks’s diets, the risks of consuming large quantities of the unprocessed root are clear. One of the most devastating outcomes of a monotonous cassava-primarily based food regimen is Konzo, a disease which might trigger everlasting paralysis.”

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Worth Addition Key to Cassava Revolution in Nigeria

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has stated that for the nation to spice up cassava production, it should pay extra attention than ever before to value addition.

The Director Common, IITA, Dr. Peter Hartmann, mentioned other than bettering farmers’ incomes, value addition has the ability to address the increasing degree of unemployment in Nigeria.

He spoke at a stakeholders’ forum in Ibadan, Oyo State, to mark the end of the CFC-funded Cassava Worth Chain Project in Nigeria carried out by IITA and its national partners.

Hartman, who was represented by a scientist with IITA, Dr. Gbassey Tarawali, mentioned the establishment of cassava processing centres in Masaka, Lafia, and Kuje for the production of garri, fufu, cassava flour and starch is producing constructive outcomes by providing new streams of incomes to the benefiting communities.

He added that with an annual production of about 44 million tonnes of cassava, Nigeria was in the present day the world’s chief of cassava, but confused that the country was but to harness the maximum benefit from cassava attributable to inadequate processing amenities, and stated this subjects the crop to seasonal glut.

Everlasting Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Funding, Dr. Abubakar Abdullahi, mentioned worth addition to cassava would assist flip around the fortunes of farmers.

The permanent secretary stated cassava provided large alternatives that might broaden the nation’s economic viability and enhance its competitiveness notably in the non-oil sector.

“Nigeria as the largest world producer of cassava can profit immensely from this great crop if concerted efforts were made at harnessing its numerous potentials,” he mentioned,

“Let me name on all key players within the cassava industry and prospective buyers to take a cue from the cassava prototype tasks with a view to putting in standard processing crops to utilise the volume of cassava produced in the nation as a supply of income,” he said.

Nigeria’s Challenge Coordinator, Mrs. Omololu Ope-ewe, said that the approach used in the mission was to strengthen farmers, processors and entrepreneurs by means of the introduction of appropriate technologies.

“The cassava challenge was very profitable in all venture websites namely Kuje (Shabach Food), Mararaba (Joe Beg Farms) and Angwa village in Lafia, Nasarawa State. All the challenge websites got varied intervention measures including building structures, cassava processing tools, packaging materials etc. The products from the websites had been accepted by NAFDAC,” she said.

The IITA-CFC Regional Coordinator, Prof. Lateef Sanni, known as on the beneficiaries to benefit from the processing centres. He urged policymakers and the non-public sector to make the most of the untapped alternatives available within the cassava sector, especially processing.

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Stick to rising cassava for good harvests

Tanzanian farmers ought to stick to rising drought resistant crops in the event that they wish to enhance their harvests in view of world climate modifications that always lead to insufficient rainfall.The recommendation was given yesterday by the minister for Agriculture, Food Safety and Cooperatives, Professor Jumanne Maghembe, in Dar es Salaam to mark the Cassava Week.

Officiating on the launch of the exhibition held at Karimjee grounds, the minister mentioned cultivating drought resistant crops, comparable to cassava, would enable Tanzania overcome the perennial meals shortages.

“With the current world weather changes, which extra typically result in inadequate rainfall, cassava stands out as the suitable crop in most parts of the country. Improving production and productivity of the crop will, subsequently, guarantee meals security and earnings to native and international farmers and the nation,” said Prof Maghembe.

He said cassava was a drought resistant root crop, tolerant to low soil fertility and most pests. The crop can be saved underground safely and conveniently compared to other food crops, he said.Further, he went on to say, it allows for extensive flexibility in planting and harvesting time, the outcome being the potential for having a crop all the year round.

Prof Maghembe said if cassava could be grown and stored in good situations a farmer could realise 20 tonnes of cassava or more. He stated the crop contributes significantly to family food security, earnings and employment opportunities for 500 million people around the world.

“Because of being a strategic food safety crop, cassava might be among crops with high productiveness potentials that may considerably contribute to poverty discount within the country and livelihood basically, thus being a key player in fostering rural improvement,” he said.

Giving examples, he mentioned China needs 500,000 tonnes of cassava from Africa annually. Thus he suggested farmers to extend the crop’s production in order to satisfy the world market.Prof Maghembe mentioned despite its significance, production of the crop was still very low in the country, estimated at six tonnes per hectare in opposition to the potential of over 30 tonnes per hectare.

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Tapioca flour and exports growth areas

The Thai tapioca industry will focus on flour exports and Asian markets as part of its growth strategy over the next five years, when the exports of tapioca products could reach 100 billion baht.

The Commerce Ministry projected that by 2016, domestic demand for cassava roots in ethanol production will surge to 13 million tonnes, while exports could top 22.5 million tonnes, totalling 35.5 million tonnes, up 42% from the current production levels.

Speaking at the World Tapioca Conference 2011, Yanyong Phuangrach, the ministry's permanent secretary, said Thailand should focus more on exporting tapioca flour to substitute for a reduction in the export of tapioca chips and pellets.

The proportion of flour exports is expected to rise to 65% from 51% now, with chips and pellets making up the rest.

Mr Yanyong said the country should build a good image and accept the standards of its tapioca flour and other products to create confidence among importers, buyers and local consumers.

Thai exporters should also expand in promising markets, especially in Asia countries such as China, India and Indonesia, to ensure flour quality and lower transport and insurance costs.

Sharing his view was Pramote Kongthong, president of the North Eastern Tapioca Trade Association, adding that tapioca flour has high potential to be used in food, energy and other industries.

He is confident Thailand's exports of tapioca products will exceed 100 billion baht over the next five years. Currently, there is more investment in tapioca flour factories to supply major customers in China and India.

Tapioca is a key economic crop for the country, creating jobs and income for more than 500,000 families, with plantation areas of about 6.5 million to 7 million rai.

Thailand harvests approximately 20-25 million tonnes of cassava roots each year, 75% of which are processed for export.

Last year, the country shipped 7.27 million tonnes of all types of tapioca products worth US$2.15 billion (68.3 billion baht).

Seree Denworalak, president of the Thai Tapioca Traders Association, said tapioca exports this year were projected at 73 billion baht, of which 44 billion baht would be tapioca flour.

However, the figures may change after a survey on cassava root production in September.

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School's giant cassava find

TEACHERS and students of Bulileka Sanatan Primary School in Labasa got a shock when a seven-month-old cassava plant bore a 20 kilogram crop.

Students from the school uprooted the plant on Thursday.

Headteacher Narsamma Naidu said they were thrilled to see such a gigantic crop in their yard.

"This is a rare sight and we are really surprised that we have this big crop right here in our school garden," Ms Naidu said.

"I asked the garden teacher to dig up a cassava plant for our morning tea because we decided to have tea with cassava this morning," she said.

Ms Naidu said they would cook some for morning tea and the rest would be shared among the teachers who were interested.

She said the growth of the plant would have to be attributed to soil fertility given the creek that flowed nearby.

She said five students planted the crop in December.

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Cassava prices continue to climb

Cassava prices continued to move up into the second half of 2011 although the movement is slower than last year. Data from the Ministry of Commerce noted in the consumer price of cassava has risen 1.13% in the first half of 2011, the average price in January Rp 2988 per kilogram (kg) to Rp 3022 per kg in June 2011.

Rhomy Irawan, Second Secretary Cassava Farmers Association of Indonesia (Aspesindo) said the current high price increases that occurred in cassava farmers. From an average price of fresh cassava maximum of Rp 600 to Rp 650 per kg to Rp 900 to Rp 1100 per kg, this price varies depending on the type of cassava and cassava garden access.

"The price of land has increased beyond our expectations, this might be because there is a rise in demand. But we still observe whether the increase is only temporary because there are speculators or will be stable," said Rhomy via telephone on Tuesday (5 / 7).

Cassava Indonesia Society Head I Suhayo Husen said the price increase is driven by high demand from both domestic industry and overseas. Husen said Indofood demand for semi-finished cassava processed into chips alone reached 200,000 tons to 300,000 tons per year, whereas to produce 1 kg of chips it takes about 3.5 kg of fresh cassava.

Husen mention half the price of processed cassava is also increased from an average of Rp 1,500 per kg in January 2011 to Rp 2,000 in June. The high demand and prices offered by the food processing industry is made from raw cassava by Husen create more incentive to cassava production.

"People who were not planted cassava is now so willing to plant cassava. In East Kalimantan, opened 600 ha of new cassava fields, in Central Sulawesi, there are 600 hectares as well, then there is 3000 ha in Cianjur," Husen said when contacted Tuesday (5 / 7 ).

Rhomy premise that the additions of cassava plantations up to 35% from the end of last year due to weather factors that make farmers switch vegetable planting cassava. He also said Aspesindo currently pioneering the cultivation of cassava in Sukabumi is expected to increase local production by 50%.

Besides expanding production area, Husen stated farmers MSI members also use the seeds of cassava and cassava Manggu Darul Hidayah which has production capacity of up to 100 tons per hectare (Tonnes / Ha). Whereas ordinary cassava seedlings only has production capacity of 20 Ton / Ha. Husen said with this addition, the production of cassava this year could reach 25 million tones to 26 million tons, up about 10% of 2010 production of 23.9 million tons.

Husen said the business potential of cassava is still wide open due to the domestic industry only require an average of 1 million tons of tapioca flour per year, whereas to produce 1 kg of tapioca starch is needed 3.5 kg of fresh cassava. The need for modified cassava flour (Mocaf) also reached an average of 1 million tons per year. Not to mention the demand for cassava chip exports to China are one factory alone could require up to 4 million tones of cassava per year. From this demand, according to records MSI, Indonesia can only meet 5% or about 200,000 tons of cassava chips.

But worrying about the price of fresh cassava Rhomy can sag back to a level of maximum USD 700 if the supply is abundant and demand was rising from the current position. Moreover, if farmers are still only offer fresh cassava alone, the potential for export business could be released.

"Demand for export out of it in processed form, while to hold a cassava cutting machine and dryer that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars for one machine only. If for cooperatives or farmer groups combined (Gapoktan) is still a little heavy," said Rhomy.

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"Cassava War" Bustling Tela's Festival

Center souvenirs Cake Tela Clark held a "Festival Tela Indonesia" (FTI) first in Yogyakarta. Activities that are packed with a variety of creativity, will take place at the Square Puro Pakualaman on July 16 to 17 later.

FTI chairman of the Committee, Firmansyah Budi Prasetyo said that this event will be displayed in more than 100 processed foods from cassava and non-cassava. With the purpose of promoting the branding tela as food quality is not inferior to the other foodstuffs.

"All this is still viewed tela ndeso products that are less appreciated by the community, especially as they still lay on local food products. In fact, Yogya is the main cassava-producing areas in Java with the production of more than 800 thousand pounds per year," he said on Monday ( 4 / 7).

To that end, advanced Word, people should know that the processed products tela which has now grown with different variants of processed food and non food-grade and high flavor.

This event will be enlivened by Tela War or the "Cassava War" which will be followed 100 people who are members of various communities. The war in question is using tela already crushed for the smear to each participant.

"Cassava War" wants to show it is a struggle to introduce more refined products at a time when Indonesia tela flooded with imported food products, "he said.

Event FTI also enlivened by the "Ball Grebeg Tela" tela form of raw materials and other tubers to be paraded from the town square towards Bintaran Pakualaman by Bregada. Arriving at the location, raw materials will be incorporated into processed products tela, which in turn will be contested by the public.

"This grand event we hope to be able to break the record Muri with the highest category of processed products initiated Agency for Food Security and Guidance (BKPP) DI Yogyakarta," said Word.

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Collaboration on cassava-based ethanol

Thailand has teamed up with neighbouring countries to develop ethanol from fresh cassava, aiming to turn the kingdom into a regional technology and production centre for cassava-based renewable fuel.

Under a programme called South-South Technology Transfer: Ethanol Production from Cassava, which is funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GIF), Thailand will be a focal point in forging cooperation with Vietnam, Laos, and Burma.

The four-year project, which will be launched next year, includes two pilot ethanol plants to be built in Thailand and Vietnam. The facilities could be developed for commercial-scale production in the next phase through a partnership with interested investors and banks.

The Thai pilot project will be located at an alcohol production plant of the Liquor Distillery Organisation (LDO) in Bang Khla, Chachoengsao, to produce ethanol from fresh cassava between 2012 and 2013. Next month it will test ethanol production from tapioca chips, and it has produced molasses-based ethanol in the past.

"The main problem for ethanol production in Thailand now is the relatively high cost of raw materials, as the price of molasses is increasing," said LDO director Ittithep Visessmit.

Tapioca chips are now priced at seven baht per kilogramme, compared to three baht per kg for fresh cassava, which also generates a higher yield for ethanol production.

"Once we can produce ethanol from fresh cassava, we will contract with farmers to lower the cost of raw materials," he added.

The pilot plant in Hanoi will be operated between 2013 and 2014 with capacity of 50 litres a day of E100, less than the 200 litres at the Thai plant, said the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, a partner in this project.

The National Science and Technology Development Agency will receive 80 million baht from GIF to help with technology transfer to neighbouring countries, as Thailand is more advanced in this area.

Thailand is the world's largest exporter of tapioca products, with annual production of 25-30 million tonnes.

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Cassava exports increase as China prices surge

Viet Nam exported US$638 million of cassava in the first five months of the year, nearly equal to 110 per cent of the entire export revenue of last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Although the domestic price has risen to VND5,800 a kg, cassava is still exported to China in large quantities because it can fetch higher prices.

In recent years, exports to China accounted for about 5 million tonnes annually.

Viet Nam has about 510,000ha of cassava planted, with an annual output of nearly 9 million tonnes.

The ministry estimates the country's domestic demand for cassava this year will be 8.12 million tonnes.

Of that figure, 1.89 million tonnes are used for producing ethanol, and the remaining volume for animal feed and confectionary products.

Pham Duc Binh, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Animal Feed Association, said cassava accounted for 30-40 per cent of input materials in animal feed production.

However, cassava is also exported so domestic animal feed plants have not been able to buy enough for production, Binh told Viet Nam Economic Times.

Le Khac Triet, director of the Viet Nam Cassava and Cassava Starch Club, said since 2009 cassava had become an agricultural plant with high economic value.

The price of cassava has increased to VND5,700-6,000 a kg, compared to just VND200-500 a kg in 2007-08 and VND4,000 a kg in 2010.

Farmers in central provinces have expanded the area under cassava cultivation, raising concerns among local authorities about forest protection and transferring to cassava cultivation.

In Quang Ngai Province's Son Ha District, for instance, farmers have cleared protective forests upstream of the Thach Nham River to grow cassava.

Ta Tien, acting head of the Son Tra District Forest Protection Bureau, said this situation had happened over the past few months.

In 2006-10, Quang Ngai had planned for 13,500 ha of cassava in 2010, but the area had increased to 21,000ha in 2010, and is continuing to rise.

In Ha Tinh Province, hundreds of households in Ky Anh District had also destroyed protective forests to grow cassava.

Triet warned that cassava had become a hot product and when output exceeds demand, the price could drop as it did in 2007-08.

At that time, it would be difficult for farmers to switch to other crops because the fertility of the soil would be eroded after three to four years of growing cassava, he said.

To resolve the cassava material shortage, the cultivation area should not be increased, but measures should be taken to increase productivity, Triet said.

Farmers in some countries have harvested cassava output of 40 tonnes per ha a year while in Viet Nam output is only 17.2 tonnes per ha.

Measures to increase cassava productivity include applying advanced farming techniques and finding high-yield cassava strains, he said.

He added that his club had found new cassava strains with a high yield of 40 tonnes per ha a year.

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Farmers chop down sugar cane to grow cassava

For the last 37 years, Quang Ngai province has been considered the “sugar cane metropolis” of the central region. However, farmers in Quang Ngai province do not grow sugar cane any more, but cassavas instead. Cassavas can bring higher profits than sugar cane. The area for growing sugar cane has been reduced gradually in the central province.

Currently, dozens of intermediary merchants are competing fiercely with cassava processing plants to collect cassava from farmers. Plants are purchasing fresh cassava from farmers at 1800 dong per kilo, and merchants have also raised the purchase price to 1800 dong per kilo. Cassava slicing machines have been running day and night, while merchants have been going to every corner in villages and communes to collect cassavas.

As the demand for cassava has increased, farmers have given up sugar cane farming and shifted to growing cassavas. In Tinh Tan Tay commune in Son Tinh district, which had been well known as a sugar cane area, 2/3 of the sugar cane plants have been chopped down to make way for cassava cultivation. People in the commune now rush to sell cassavas to merchants, though the harvest will only come in two months.

Nguyen Thi Hai, a farmer in Tinh An commune, said that last year, she sold fresh cassava at 400,000-500,000 dong per ton, while she now can sell it at 900,000 per ton. If she sells dried cassavas, she will get 1.8 million dong per ton. Hai said that farmers can have two cassava crops a year, while they do not need to spend much time to take care of the cassava fields. Meanwhile, sugar cane only has one crop a year, while the price of a ton of sugar cane is lower at 700,000-750,000 dong per ton.

Since the profits brought in by cassavas are double those of sugar cane, farmers have rushed to grow cassavas. As a result, sugar refineries have been seriously lacking sugar cane to process, while cassava processing plants have been enlarging.

According to Le Tuan Toan, Deputy General Director of Quang Ngai Farm Produce and Food Company, the company now has five cassava processing plants, including two in Quang Ngai, one in Phu Yen, one in Dak To, and one in Tay Ninh province. A bio-fuel plant that makes fuel from sliced cassava is now under construction in Quang Ngai province.

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East Java Developing Cassava as Substitute Rice

To anticipate a food crisis due to extreme weather conditions, the East Java Food Security Council (BKP) has begun to create a substitute-rice to replace the real staple food. The mocaf-based (modified cassava flour) ‘rice’ is undergoing testing prior to production.

“We have been developing it since 2011. We are seeing the results now. Hopefully, we can launch it by October at the Food Security Day,” said Apriyanto, the head of East Java BKP Food Consumption and Diversification Board, yesterday.

According to Apriyanto, the process to produce this substitute-rice was conducted jointly with the Jember State university’s Faculty of Agricultural Technology. Although it is a substitute the nutritional value of this cassava-rice will be no less than the natural rice.

The nutritional value of the substitute- rice—like natural rice—fulfills at least three nutritional requirements: protein, regulatory nutrients, and the same carbohydrate content as natural rice.

Apriyanto explained that in order to obtain the same flavor as natural rice, the substitute rice is a mixture consisting 30 percent natural rice flour and 70 percent of mocaf-based flour. “We even made it look like natural rice. The flour will be formed into grains the size of original rice,” he said.

According to Apriyanto, the same appearance of the substitute rice was aimed at accelerating the adjustment of its consumption. “People’s first impression is from its look and its taste,” he said.

Contacted separately, Wibowo Eko Putro, the East Java Agriculture Council chairman, said that the cassava flour was selected to produce this rice-substitute because of the high cassava production in East Java. In 2010, for example, East Java ranked the highest in Indonesia for cassava production, about 3.642 million tons per year. “The center for the mocaf-rice development contributed around Rp5 billion to the effort,” said Eko.

The development of the mocaf is also intended to reduce East Java’s dependency on wheat imports which amounts to about 7 million tons this year.

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From tapioca to biofuel

SWEET tea-time treats may soon find their way into your car’s petrol tank — a research team from Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman’s (Utar) Faculty of Engineering and Science is studying the use of cassava, better known as tapioca, and sweet potato in the production of biofuels.

“Rising global crude oil prices has prompted the search for alternative energy sources to reduce the reliance on crude oil, and this has opened up a lot of opportunities worldwide,” says Dr Low Chong Yu, who leads the research team comprising students Lim Syly, Koh Cin Cong and Voon Meng Seap.

Dr Low says unlike fossil fuels which are depleting, biofuels are renewable energy sources, which can not only reduce air pollution and greenhouse effects caused by burning of fossil fuels, but also enable sustainable development that provides employment and improves economy.

Dr Low adds that the development of biofuels in other countries is quite advanced. For instance, ethanol as a biofuel is widely used in gasohol – a mixture of gasoline (petrol) and alcohol – in Brazil, the United States and Thailand.

Although the development and use of biofuels is critical, it remains unpopular in Malaysia — a fact that Utar hopes to change by encouraging its Chemical Engineering students to study the development of biofuels.

“Our studies involve using cassava and sweet potato as raw materials to produce biofuels; through fermentation, they produce ethanol, a type of alcohol,” says Lim.

Koh concurs and says, “Both cassava and sweet potato are rich in starch and suitable for the fermentation process to produce ethanol.”

He adds that ethanol can replace petrol and as it produces less carbon dioxide, it reduces the greenhouse effects.

Furthermore, the country’s tropical climate is conducive for planting these two crops, which grow quickly and have no special cultivation requirements.

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P20M assistance for cassava farmers

Cassava farmers in Cebu’s northern towns are going to get financial assistance from the Cebu People’s Multi-Purpose Cooperative (CPMPC) which is allocating P20 million to boost their production.

The said endeavor is in partnership with the Coop-National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO) Party-list and the San Miguel Corporation where the latter is going to buy the farmers’ cassava products.

“We will help in raising that amount for our cassava farmers to boost their production,” said Coop-NATCCO Rep. Cresente C. Paez. “I recently met with our cassava farmers in Bantayan Island during the Harvest Festival and I witnessed a tremendous excitement on their part,”

Paez added that said financial assistance will benefit 1,000 farmers not only on this island but also those in Tuburan, Daan Bantayan, Bogo and Medellin as the expansion of cassava production in those towns is now being facilitated by the CPMPC.

Based on studies, each farmer will earn up to P30,000 to P40,000 per cropping season for every hectare.

Moreover, to facilitate the release of the P20 million financial assistance,Coop-NATCCO will tap the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) through the Cebu Credit Surety Fund.

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Company spurs cassava planting

Cassava (“balinghoy” or “balanghoy”) is staging a comeback in Negros with Ginebra San Miguel Inc. providing a ready market.

Farmers with standing cassava crops from Cauayan, Sipalay and Hinobaan have so far supplied the company’s distillery in Bago City, Negros Occidental with over 290,000 kilos of dried cassava chips.

The distillery needs four million kilos of dried cassava chips monthly as raw material for its alcohol production, said Joel Guevarra of GSMI. However, due to the current lack of supply of quality chips coming from Negros, GSMI has to source its needs from Mindanao, Thailand and Vietnam.

Ginebra procures its Negros supply in tandem with its accredited local assemblers. These assemblers, in turn, source the chips by inking a Production and Purchase Agreement, with local farmers possessing idle lands.

GSMI is specifically tapping idle lands to provide additional income and livelihood opportunities for rural folks, Guevarra said.

Under the PPA, the assemblers provide farmers with free cassava planting materials, and commit to buy their produce in dried chips form not lower than a guaranteed minimum price which they agree on and set prior to actual planting. Farmers are also given training on sound cassava farming practices, and soil conservation in support of sustainable agriculture.

If the prevailing market price of dried chips is higher than the set minimum purchase price come harvest time, farmers give GSMI’s assemblers the first option to buy the chips at the prevailing price before they sell to the open market. Farmers may also opt to sell their chips directly to Ginebra which the company buys at P8 per kilo delivered to its Bago City distillery.

Over a hundred farmers with idle lands from Southern Negros have already entered into the agreement since its introduction last year. Their first harvest is expected by the coming third quarter.

GSMI is anticipating a further increase in the number beneficiaries with the addition of at least 600 hectares set to be planted with cassava beginning this May. This includes idle lands in Silay City, EB Magalona and Hinigaran, Negros Occidental; Basay, Bayawan and Sta. Catalina in Negros Oriental.

Meanwhile, harvest is ongoing in the company’s demonstration farms located in Victorias, Bago City, Pontevedra, Talisay and Candoni. Similar farms were also opened recently in San Carlos City and the municipality of San Lorenzo in Guimaras. These farms were planted with the popular food grade Golden Yellow variety along with the industrial-grade KU50 and Rayong 5 originally from Thailand. Average fresh tubers yield in these demo farms are at 20,000 kilos per hectare.

GSM is inviting other farmers with idle lands from Cadiz City, Negros Occidental down South to Siaton, Negros Oriental to partner with their accredited assemblers in growing cassava. The company has already started distributing free planting materials among listed participants in preparation for the start of the planting season this May and June.

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Region could look into cassava sector

Agriculture remains the source and cause of the largest news in the region. Inflation, particularly the rising price of food in all of the region, seems to have hit many headlines.

This can be attributed to the unpredictable weather patterns and to a great extent poor planning and anticipation by both farmers and governments alike.
However, there seems to be an opportunity in all of these situations when it comes to the issue of food security.

For every challenge, there is an opportunity. The answer, in part, lies with a primary solution to rural household food consumption and to a large measure household/commercial gains. One such product is the cassava crop.
Carbohydrates is one of the three major nutrients which supply the body with energy after fat and protein.

Cassava is the third-largest source of carbohydrates for meals in the world, and has been described as the ‘bread of the tropics.”
Cassava is grown all of over the East African region. It is a drought-resistant crop, not labour intensive, easy to tend and is used both as a bread and its leaves as a source or gravy.

It can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, roasted and fried. Cassava is also dried and milled as a flour.

Cassava has proven unlimited uses. Besides its nutritional attributes, cassava is used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, bio-fuels, alcoholic beverages and animal feed. Cassava starch is now a major ingredient in the paper industry.
Starch is also used in textile manufacturing. It is a popular base for adhesives, particularly those designed to bond paper, glass, mineral wool and clay.
There have been attempts by some countries in the world, notably India, Vietnam, and China will grow cassava on a large scale. In Africa, Nigeria has shown the way and has reaped dividends.

In the region, a project spearheaded by the Rwanda army is setting a precedent whose success could be a case study of how organised commercial agriculture could spur rural development.

However, a regional scheme, funded by member countries, bolstered by integrated scientific research and collaborative initiatives is a good way to garner integration and get our communities out of poverty.

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Urged to rethink the plan to develop cassava plants

Cassava products have been selling like hot cakes. Meanwhile, the consumption is expected to increase further in the next years. However, development programmers still have been called to reconsider the plan to develop cassava plants.

The rise of the cassava plants
It is now the second time that Vietnam has witnessed the boom of cassava plant since 1975. The first time occurred during the first years after the country’s union, when the rice and maize output was low. Just within three years, since 1979, the cassava growing area increased by two folds, to the record high of 461,400 hectares, while the output also climbed to the record high of 3.422 million tons.

Later, when Vietnam became a rice export power, cassava plants became less attractive in the eyes of farmers, who preferred to grow rice to earn money.

However, cassava plants, once again, have become “favored” by farmers, which have hindered the development of many other kinds of plants. The cassava growing area has increased by 7.6 percent to 496,200 hectares, while the output has increased by 15.7 percent to 8.522 million tons.

Vietnamese farmers have been rushing to grow cassava because they can see the high demand from the Chinese market.

In 2010, Vietnam exported 1.7 million tons of cassava products in total, of which, China alone consumed 92.4 percent. The percentage was 94.1 percent in the first two months of the year. Fresh cassava has also been carried out continuously to China across the border gates.

Why cassava?
While Vietnamese farmers feel happy with the money they earn from exporting cassava to China, experts have called on to reconsider the plan on developing cassava plants.

Nguyen Dinh Bich, a well known trade expert from the Trade Research Institute, said on Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon, that Vietnam is not the country which has advantages in developing cassava plants for export. In the world, only the countries with large area and thin population density can reserve many areas for growing cassava. This explains why in the world, only four countries have the cassava growing areas of more than one million hectares, namely Nigeria (3.8 million hectares), Brazil (1.8-1.9 million), Thailand (1.3 million) and Indonesia (1.2 million).

Besides Ghana, there are only three other poor countries in the world which have the cassava growing areas exceeding Vietnam’s, including Angola, Tanzania and Mozambique.

Regarding the yield; though Vietnam’s cassava output in 2009 was high at 16.8 tons per hectare, which was much higher than the average yield in the world, the figure is still lower than the average level of 20.2 tons per hectare in Asia and 22.7 tons per hectares in Thailand.

The demand for cassava is believed to increase sharply in the time to come, as enterprises need cassava to make many kinds of products. Cassava is being used in making seasoning powder, used in food industry. Especially, the demand for animal breeding alone is at 1.5 million tons per annum. Besides, Vietnam also has five ethanol factories and tens of other factories making alcohol of different kinds, which also need cassava.

However, Bich has pointed out that Vietnam cannot compete with China, even though the cassava yield has been increasing considerably in recent years. Since the cassava prices have been increasing too sharply, many enterprises have to shift to use other kinds of materials, which explain why the imports of maize and wheat have been increasing rapidly.

The third problem that experts have pointed out to persuade development programmers to put a brake on the cassava growing area development, is that while growing cassavas mostly serve the demand from foreign countries, Vietnam would lack land to develop other important farm produce, because the agriculture land fund will not be enlarged.

Statistics show that while cassava plants see “hot development”, the growing areas of many other kinds of plants has been decreasing. The cotton growing area, for example, has reduced by 6.9 percent per annum, while the sugar cane area by 1.3 percent per annum. Especially, the cashew growing area has been decreasing for the third consecutive years by 11 percent in total.

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Govt launches sh72b cassava project

THE Government has launched a $30m (sh72b) project to promote food security through sustainable cassava production in the country.

The project is also aimed at improving peoples’ incomes and promoting commercial farming.

The project coordinator, George Lukwago, said Uganda would lead regional research in cassava through the regional centre of excellence.
“Uganda is providing leadership in cassava research that will take the East African countries to the levels of world class success stories,” Lukwago said.

The five-year project will be implemented by the National Agricultural Advisory and Research Organisation (NARO) through the agriculture ministry.

Funded through a World Bank loan, the project will also be implemented under the Eastern Africa agricultural productivity programme (EAAPP).

Under the EAAPP project, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia have received $30m each to promote cassava, dairy, rice and wheat growing on a commercial scale.

The cassava centre of excellence, one of the components of the project, was recently launched by the agriculture minister, Hope Mwesigye, at the national crops resources research instituite at Namulonge in Kampala.

“This is the time to increase local production and safeguard our communities from hunger and unproductive livelihoods,” Mwesigye said.

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Training to reduce post-harvest cassava losses

The small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO) in Dar es Salaam has initiated a training programme for cassava farmers aimed at adding value and reducing post harvest losses.

Speaking to this paper recently in Dar es Salaam, the SIDO regional manager Hamwel Meena, said the programme trains farmers on adding value to the crop hence reduce post harvest losses and poverty.

It was not easily established how much is lost for the cassava crop during post harvest period nationally, but all the country crops losses amount to between 35 to 40 percent.

“We are training farmers how to preserve cassava in a modern way in order to add value to the crop and reduce post harvest losses,” he said.

He said they train farmers on how to refine cassava for value addition and hence enable the farmers to get more money than when selling the crop in unprocessed form.

Meena said the price of fresh cassava from a farm is quiet different compared to the preserved one.

He said already SIDO has trained cassava farmers in Mvuti, Ilala District where they have started to process the crop.

Todate at least 15 groups of farmers have already received training provided between December last year and January this year.

"However, for this new technology to be beneficial, medium and large-scale investors need to get involved in exploiting cassava as a source of industrial raw material and not just as a food crop," he added.

Industries in Tanzania can consume up to 47,000 tonnes of raw cassava in form of high quality cassava flour, starch and cassava chips that can substitute expensive imports in breweries, textiles, food, adhesives, bakeries, and animal feed mills.

Cassava is highly marketable raw material but the transition of the crop to an industrial commodity is greatly constrained because its processing is in the hands of small-scale entrepreneurs, according to agricultural experts.

Speaking to this paper, one of the farmer identified as Hasan Mjopeka, said they have been motivated by the ready market for cassava flour.

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Cassava farming gains ground

A growing number of farmers with idle lands in southern Negros are looking forward to earning extra income from planting cassava or “balanghoy,” as Ginebra San Miguel Inc. accelerated its program encouraging cassava farming in unproductive areas throughout the island.

Representatives of GSMI recently explained the program during a visit to farmers from Siaton and Bayawan City in southern Negros Oriental, saying that Ginebra is specifically tapping idle lands to provide income and livelihood opportunities in the areas with the company as the guaranteed market for the produce.

The program also promotes sustainable agriculture by training farmers on sound crop production and management practices including soil conservation.

Speaking before officers of the Lapay Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multi Purpose Cooperative, and the Siaton Federation of Farmer Cooperatives, GSMI’s head for Advocacy, Joel Guevara, said Negros was the hands down choice for propagating the crop being the site of the company’s distillery – Distileria Bago - which uses both dried cassava chips and molasses as raw material for its alcohol production.

Due to the lack of supply and quality of chips, the company is presently sourcing its supply from Mindanao, Thailand and Vietnam. Its Starch Milk Plant alone requires four million kilos of chips a month.

To date, over a hundred farmers from Calatrava, Cauayan, Sipalay City and Hinoba-an in Negros Occidental already entered into an agreement with Ginebra San Miguel through the company’s accredited assemblers.

Those from Basay, Bayawan and Siaton in Negros Oriental are set to sign separate PPA agreements, Guevara said.

Under the scheme called “Production and Purchase Agreement,” farmers plant, harvest and process cassava into dried chips. GSMI’s assembler, in turn, provides them with free cassava planting materials, and guarantees to buy the chips at a minimum floor price which is set prior to actual planting.

Should the prevailing market price for dried cassava chips be higher than the agreed minimum on price by harvest time, farmers shall give the assembler the “Right of First Refusal,” the first option to buy their chips at the prevailing market price. If the assembler waives this right, the farmers can then sell their produce to the open market.

Farmers may also opt to sell their cassava chips directly to GSMI as a last option. Ginebra currently buys dried cassava chips at P8 per kilo delivered to its distillery in Bago City.

Cassava, also known as “balanghoy”, is a perennial root crop grown throughout the country for food, animal feeds and alcoholic drinks, among others. It is widely adaptable to varying weather and environmental conditions such as typhoons and droughts.

GSMI has planted the popular Golden Yellow variety and industrial-grade KU 50 and Rayong 5 in some 160 hectares of idle lands in eight demonstration farms.

These farms are located in Victorias, Bago, Pontevedra, Talisay, San Carlos, Candoni and San Vicente in Guimaras island. Average yield of the industrial grade varieties in these demo farms are at 20,000 kilos per hectare.

Government agencies supporting Ginebra San Miguel in the program are the departments of Agrarian Reform and Agriculture.

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Expects Over 15,000 Tonnes of Cassava Harvest

The Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF), expects a large harvest after the recent expansion of its cassava farm located in the Eastern Province.

Brig. Gen. Alex Ibambasi, the CEO of RDF's new production arm, Agro Processing Industries Ltd, explained the expansion.

"We have expanded and added over 600 hectares and we now have a total of 1,400 hectares," Ibambasi said adding that harvest begins next month.

"We expect a minimum of 15,000 tonnes but it could go up to 19,000. We will sell it. We will not process it because, currently, we don't have processing plants," Ibambasi said.

The cassava project in employs over 500 people.

Beans are also planted within the cassava plantations.

In Gabiro, on a 2,000-hectare farm, about 4,000 tonnes were recently harvested.

Ibambasi said that they now plan to plant soya beans on 2,000 hectares in addition to 2,000 hectares of beans.

"We also have about 100 hectares of pineapples that have just been planted. We have 10 coffee washing stations, all over the country, and we will start buying coffee from growers, next week. We target to get 500 tonnes of green coffee."

Agro Processing Industries Ltd also has a big plan for silk production (raising silkworms).

"We are in the process of building silk rearing houses so that we can export silk, in the near future," Ibambasi said.

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New Cassava Factory Nears Completion

A new cassava processing plant in Ruhango district, worth Rwf5billion, is expected to boost economic activity, once complete in September.

The plant will have the capacity to process 250 tonnes of raw cassava and produce 60 tonnes of cassava flour on a daily basis.

Rwanda Development Bank (BRD) is funding the project.

According to Jack Kayonga, the BRD Managing Director, the state-of the-art facility will benefit both the residents and the country's economy

"The factory will increase the residents' incomes and provide market for the local cassava farmers," Kayonga said.

"This is a step towards development and will enable Rwanda to compete in the regional market and reduce dependence on imported cassava products," he added.

Kayonga noted that it's the duty of the bank to propel such development programs, which have been set by the government.

The Local leaders noted that the plant will buy Cassava from farmers in other districts, including Ruhango, Kamonyi, Bugesera and Nyanza.

Vitali Rwibasira, a representative of cassava farmers noted that once completed, the factory will bring a smile to farmers who had in the past lost hope in cassava production due to lack market.

He also noted that business and trade in the community will be boosted and social welfare will improve.

The Cassava plant will create 68 full time jobs and many other temporary ones.

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Cassava streak hits Nebbi

CASSAVA brown streak disease has hit Nebbi district, destroying over 33 acres of cassava gardens under the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) programme.

Anthony Okwir, the district production coordinator, said the cassava variety (T.M.E 204) that was supplied for food security had been affected.

Okwir identified the three worst hit sub-counties as Wadelai, Nebbi and Erussi, which are known to be the food baskets for the region.

“We are working hard to contain the disease before it spreads further,” Okwir said.

According to Okwir, the disease is spread through propagation of infected cuttings and by a white fly vector (Bemisiatabaci).

Okwir said an infected cassava tuber shows a corky and yellow-brown necrotic root.

He urged farmers in the district to burn all the cassava stalks from gardens that have been infected.

“We have set a committee to see that the disease does not spread in the district by restricting the replanting of the infected stalk,” Okwir said.

Betty Adima, the resident district commissioner, called for help from the relevant ministries.

Geoffrey Orom, a farmer in Erussi sub-county, said: “We are worried and the Government needs to intervene to avert this situation, otherwise we predict shortage of food in the region.”

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Cassava can be Nigeria’s mega export earner

THE World Bank has said Nigeria as the largest producer of cassava, could develop its economy by exporting quality cassava and other commodities other than oil.

World Bank’s Country Director in Nigeria, Mr Omo Ruhl, said this at a forum in Abuja.

“You have the most cassava in the world but apparently it is not the best. The quality may not be there. So let us focus on how we increase the standard,” he said.
The Country Director said that one of the greatest problems with the Nigerian economy was its over reliance on oil, as well as the mono-revenue and export economy system.

“Nigeria is not a mono-product economy. It is a mono-revenue economy and a mono-export economy because in the other sectors, there are no exports, very low fiscal revenues. That is where your challenge is, but oil is only 17 per cent of your GDP, 83 per cent is everything else taken together,” Ruhl said.

He added that Nigeria stood to benefit a lot in developing its agriculture and the wholesale and retail services sectors, which, he said, were actually bigger than the oil sector.

“Oil is actually the fourth largest sector of the Nigerian economy.

The largest sector is agriculture, the second largest sector is wholesale and retail and services is the third largest

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Cassava beer plans mature

The UK-listed brewer, like many food and beverage companies, is seeking to localise sourcing – in this case, switching barley for domestically grown cassava in Africa – in an attempt to secure supplies and cut costs.

Additionally, SABMiller hopes that having a cheaper beer will allow it to tap the vast swaths of drinkers who now stick to home brew.

But the obstacles proved bigger than the brewer envisaged.

The beer is now expected to go on sale in Mozambique in six to nine months’ time, nearly a year after the initial launch plans for late 2010. Assuming this is successful, the beer will then be rolled out to other parts of the continent.

“Where we are and what we have achieved in the timing we have set, we have done quite well,” said Gerry van den Houten, technical, supply chain and enterprise development director at SABMiller’s African operations.

“But if we could have done it six months earlier, that would have been great.”

The original plan was to brew the cassava beer in Angola, and the group built a state-of-the-art brewery just outside the capital Luanda.

The setbacks ranged from political and financial – when oil prices fell in late 2009, the crunch on foreign exchange meant SABMiller could not get enough to pay suppliers – to technical issues.

The squeeze on foreign exchange prompted SABMiller to move the pilot project from Angola to Mozambique, where it has succeeded in winning concessions on excise tax: the cassava beer will pay just one-quarter of the duty payable on mainstream beer.

That, in turn, means SABMiller can sell its beer at 65 to 70 per cent of the price of mainstream beer, a level at which it aims to bring in a whole new set of drinkers. It believes the brand could account for about one-fifth of its portfolio in the region.

Mr Van den Houten said the company was now “90 per cent there” in terms of processing technology after several headaches along the way.

Cassava is largely made up of water, making it heavy and expensive to transport, and also suffers from a short shelf life once harvested.

The brewer has got around this by developing mobile processing units capable of squeezing out the water and bringing the plant to a stable (and lighter) state ready to be transported to the mill.

Despite the travails, Mr Van den Houten is confident localising the supply chain will prove beneficial.

“It has cost advantages, shortens the supply chain and gives us an opportunity to get involved in local entrepreneur initiatives and job creation,” he said.

SABMiller now imports some 80 per cent of its raw materials, including packaging, mainly from Europe and South Africa.

Cassava is Africa’s largest crop in terms of tonnage, but is very much a subsistence crop according to Mr Van den Houten.

Depending on how much drinkers take to the new brew, he reckons the company could take crops from 2,000 smallholder farmers in Mozambique.

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Cassava farmers scramble to meet the demand from Okinawa

Cassava farmers in Batu, East Java, be besieged importers from Okinawa, Japan. "The market in Okinawa is very promising, but we had difficulty getting supplies from farmers in sufficient quantities," said Luki Budiarti, Chairman of the Joint Group of Farmers in Sub Bumiaji Arjuna Partner, Stone Town, on Thursday (17 / 2).

According to Luki, who is also the owner of CV Arjuna Flora, in at least six times a year shipment volume of cassava to Okinawa with an average of four containers. One container with a capacity of 635 tons and valued at USD 250 million. In total the farmers can be pocketed at least $ 1 billion. Yam-shaped pasta that is sent is frozen, the cooling in temperatures of minus 18 degrees Celsius.

The difficulty of getting supplies because not many farmers who are interested in cultivating sweet potatoes or cassava on a large scale. As a result, Mitra Arjun forced to seek supplies from farmers in other areas, such as Nongkojajar in Pasuruan and Mojokerto.

To overcome this, the government is expected to foster farmers involved, as well as build its processing industry facilities. In Okinawa, the cassava is processed into one chinsuko making materials. These cakes have a variety of flavors, types, and forms to become a preferred tourist souvenirs.

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Cassava farming is a goldmine for youths

Feeding a population of 150 million is a big challenge because of the high cost of labour and equipment needed in farming. In this interview with BUKOLA FASUYI, the Managing Director, Sam Mike & Vic Nigeria Limited, Segun Adewunmi, looks at ways of addressing the challenge; opportunities available to youths in cassava farming. Excerpts:

You have expressed displeasure on the policies of the Federal and state governments. What do you want them to do?

You are very correct. I think we should have a National Advisory Board or Committee comprising stakeholders in commercial farming who will use their experience as the basis for their advice and proposal, especially to the Central Bank on the right and correct ways to finance agriculture. Right now, the approach is based on the belief that finance through loan is the only problem of farming. This is very incorrect. The real problem is lack of planning and commitment on the part of the government to build the people who will build the nation through agriculture. For example, there is usually three yearly glut and scarcity circle in the cassava market.

In the year of scarcity, farmers rush to the farm and this results in a glut in the following year to the extent that cost of harvesting and transportation of the roots to the market usually surpasses the value of the product. The real fact is that cassava being a world prime product should not suffer any glut. Our glut is caused by the cost of production of cassava, especially in the south which is about N18,000 per tonne compared to other countries that produce a tonne at N2,500. These countries sell to the world market at between N4,000 and N5,000 per tonne and still make profit. But the Nigerian farmer who sells below N22,000 per tonne will run into a loss. Whereas the Nigerian environment has a comparative advantage over the countries that produce cassava cheaply if only the various governments live up to their duties and responsibilities.

What is the way out of this doldrum?

Please permit me to use the situation of the Southwestern states of Nigeria as an example. At the time when the transporters of agricultural products had some issues with the road officers and their products could not come, did you not see the food crisis that ensued? Many social activities were cancelled because people could not get pepper, onions and tomatoes. Chief Obafemi Awolowo built the former Western Region now know as Southwestern zone into a zone that became the envy of other geopolitical zones mainly on agriculture. He scored the first place in education, media, industries and road infrastructure not only in Nigeria but Africa, with the money made from Agriculture. The succeeding governments have run the same geo-political zone into hunger and serious food crisis. Food secures the people more than military weapons. We have a good example in the situation of the Soviet Union. If (God forbid) something happens to the River Niger bridge, how will the south feed?

Another area where the government should show responsibility is in empowering the people. I am aware that Southwest states have the following cassava processing industries.

• 400 metric tonnes per day in Ibafo Lagos Ibadan Expressway;

• 150 metric tonnes per day at Aiyede Ogbese on Owo Akure road;

• 150 metric tonnes per day at Asejire near Ibadan;

• 150 metric tonnes per day in Ososa near Ijebu Ode; and

• 60 tonnes per day at Ikoya in the riverrine area of Ondo states.

The five processing factories with a single shift will consume 910 metric tonnes of cassava roots. If the shifts are doubled, it can use up to 1500 metric tonnes of cassava daily. There could be other factories that I do not know. Within this geopolitical zone alone and upon the existing processing industries that we know we need a minimum of 500,000 metric tonnes of raw cassava roots per annum. Both cultivation of 500,000 tonnes and the industries that will consume the products will give employment to at least 10,000 skilled and unskilled youths. But the government is not doing anything in this direction.

With the prevailing situation, do you think the programme is feasible?

I interacted with one of the top officials of a state government in the Southwest recently. We were impressed by the performance of the government, because within two years of governance the entire infrastructure of the state have received a tremendous uplift. The reservation expressed by the government official is the feasibility of the cassava programme, moreso now that the Federal Government has lifted the ban on importation of agricultural products including industrial starch. My explanation is this, one of the factories listed above produces among the world’s best cassava starch which it sells at N128,000 per tonne but the imported industrial starch goes for only N70,000 per tonne. This particular company goes to Nasarawa State to buy cassava at N6,000 per tonne. Cassava has 70 per cent water and must be processed within 24 hours of harvesting to prevent fermentation. That company’s logistics to transport the cassava quickly cost another N6,000 per tonne. This brings cassava input to between N12,000 and N13,000 per tonne.

The factory requires five tonnes to produce a tonne of starch. It means cassava requirement alone cost the company N65,000. She goes to Nasarawa State to buy because Nasarawa and Kwara states provide a good environment that enables the farmers to produce and sell at good profit of a tonne for N6,000. The Southwest state is more well-suited for cassava production than Nasarawa if the government will clear the land freely for the farmers and provide other enablements that Nasarawa State provides. If this particular factory whose product is superior to the imported industrial starch can find cassava at N5,000 locally, the cassava input for a tonne of starch shall be N25,000 so that the fear of imported industrial starch will not arise. While the government of this particular state is doing wonderfully well to improve the state I would wish that it goes further to empower the people not by doling out cash to them but create environment for them to prosper.

How will you assess Osun State, the only state in the Southwest that has just announced its plan to cultivate 30,000 hectares for cassava production?

This is a welcome development but how will this be done. For example, like some other states, the state may desire to go for farm settlement or village farm system leading to misplaced priority and complete waste of fund (by placing emphasis on housing rather than focusing on the real objective which is agriculture). What we need at this time is serious mindedness on the part of the government and the people towards building individuals as potential farmers. Farm settlement was the idea of Israel to settle the arriving Jews with a measure of cultivable land and cottage homes for each family. Chief Awolowo copied this by establishing farm units in different parts of the Western Region far from the major towns.

He, therefore, built some modest structures that the farmers could use during the week days. Even though the intention was good, it did not succeed with the succeeding governments. Most of those structures even those made by the Federal Government for the same purpose have been abandoned. With the advantage of mobile phone and improved transportation system, this method of farming is outdated. Besides, we are advocating commercial farming. We want the money to go to direct farming. We do not want a situation where N5 billion is allocated to farming and 70 per cent is used to provide accommodation and recreation facilities; N5 billion if properly spent, will clear the land, relocate refuse and demarcate into blocks of five hectares each, 25,000 hectares of cultivable farmland. If we give a block to every participant we shall have 5,000 fully employed youths apart from other service providers.

Our plan is that the successful ones will have additional five hectares, the following year and this will continue until each farmer has 25 hectares. But a situation where N3.5 billion out of N5 billion goes to building and provision of recreation facilities the remaining 1.5 billion will cater for only 1,500 farmers. Besides, one of the objectives of a programme like this is to develop the rural areas. There is no way we can have 2,000 hectares and not have 10 to 20 villages within the area of the land. Let development come naturally as it came to the university towns of Ago Iwoye in Ogun State and Akungba in Ondo State. Money meant for agriculture should go directly to agriculture.

Another problem is that where such housing programmes are provided if any amenities break down the participants will commence agitation and riot. Let us do pure commercial farming, devoid of over pampering that reduces the whole programme into a joke and destroy the continuity beyond the regime that initiates it.

When I was the Chairman of Ondo State Cassava Growers Association, registration fee nationwide was N600 but I insisted on N2,500 for Ondo State. My point is that if I would have to sign a loan form for anyone, that person must demonstrate to me that he can work. Let him go and do labour work to earn N2,500. It is time we stop the short-sighted approach to serious matters such as agriculture. Whatever money the Osun State government raised for agriculture should go to direct farming. The project will attract needed infrastructure into the rural area if such are necessary.

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Second helpings of Cassava pudding

FRANCIS MUTUNGI, a farmer in dry eastern Kenya, stands engulfed by his cassava plants, the bright green leaves spreading out like six-fingered hands to touch his shoulders. Some have been dug up; their roots (the edible bit of the plant) lie like giant beached starfish.

Luckily, he planted a variety resistant to a disease that is ravaging Africa’s second-most-important crop in terms of calories. A neighbour’s cassava is barely knee-high; its leaves are blighted, its roots shrivelled and rotting.

Cassava (also known as tapioca or manioc) is the world’s fourth-largest calorie provider. It grows in hot, arid regions where other crops will not thrive. It resists drought and climate change better than cereal crops like rice. It has to be processed within a couple of days of harvesting, and is vulnerable to huge post-harvest losses (40% in some places). So it is not much eaten by city dwellers.

But it has one amazing plus. It will keep in the ground for years. That makes it “the perfect food-security crop”, says Claude Fauquet, of the Danforth Plant Science Centre in St Louis, Missouri, which researches Africa’s overlooked crops. You plant it alongside maize or beans. If those fail, eat the cassava; if they thrive, save it for another year. (Less happily, with no need to stop for the harvest, wars in cassava-growing lands can be continuous.)

Now two viruses—cassava mosaic disease and brown streak disease—are destroying up to half the crop in areas they infest. In Africa, where the diseases are rampant, farmers get about 8.5 tonnes a hectare; in Vietnam, where they are unknown, the yield is 17 tonnes; in South India, 26 tonnes. The result is that cassava remains a subsistence crop in Africa, but in Asia is something on which you can build a business (it can also be used to make clothing, paper and biofuels). Mr Fauquet reckons a yield of 20 tonnes a hectare means money in the bank; 25 tonnes means a house and private school for the children. But below 12 tonnes, it traps a farmer in poverty. The diseases make a vast difference.

One problem is that viruses cannot be killed by fungicides and other agrochemicals. Another is that planting stem cuttings, the usual way of propagating cassava, passes down disease more readily than propagation by seeds. Mr Fauquet has managed to breed disease-resistant plants in his laboratory. But field trials have only just begun for mosaic disease and do not start for brown streak until later this year. He thinks genetic modification of this humble crop, so far from the world of advanced science, will provide the most comprehensive defence and be the best way to boost yields.

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Cassava packs a protein punch with bean genes

A DEADLY poison could save the lives of millions of African children, thanks to the discovery that cassava can be duped into turning about half of the cyanide it makes into extra protein.

Although cassava is a major source of carbohydrates for 700 million people, mostly in Africa, it normally contains only small amounts of protein. Claude Fauquet of the Danforth Plant Science Center in St Louis, Missouri, and his team bumped up the protein content to 12.5 per cent by adding bean and maize genes to make a protein called zeolin. They were surprised to find that the plant used its natural supply of cyanide to provide the building blocks of the new protein. "Cyanide is a source of nitrogen within the plant," explains Fauquet.

While non-modified cassava supplies just one-fifth of daily protein requirements, the extra protein is enough to supply the needs of infants on a typical cassava-based diet (PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016256). Fauquet says his root could save 1 in 4 African children from a potentially fatal condition called protein-energy malnutrition.

However, it will be some years before it is rolled out. Although identical to the one eaten by a billion people worldwide, the added bean protein resembles one that causes rare allergic reactions. So the team has developed another version with extra protein from sweet potatoes that won't cause allergies. "We hope to launch it in Africa in four to six years," says Fauquet. He adds that the project, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is purely humanitarian so the cassava would be offered free to poor farmers.

Other modified staples include the "protato" developed in India, and aubergines, recently denied approval in India because of objections from groups opposed to genetically modified crops.

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Resistant Cassava Types Still On

It is estimated that viruses are causing $60m (about Shs138b) in losses per, annum out of the revenue contribution the government is supposed to realise from the production of cassava.

That is why Ugandan scientists are investigating ways to come up with cassava varieties resistant to cassava mosaic virus and cassava brown streak. The team still has a long way to go because they aim at eradicating four types of viruses that are destroying the crop from farmer's fields in cassava growing countries throughout Africa.

Crop scientists at the National Agricultural Crop Resources Research Institute in Namulonge are currently conducting research using both the conventional and biotechnology method in a bid to come up with cassava varieties that are resistant to virus.

The research work that has been going on since 2005 is an initiative of a United State research based centre, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Centre in collaboration with USAID and Uganda government.

The chief investigator of the project Dr Titus Alicai said in 2005 the National Biosafety committee housed at Uganda National Council for Science and Technology gave his team a permit to proceed with the research where the team undertook to study the general behaviour of the virus before embarking into real research work.

The team in the 1990s did conduct research in a bid to eradicate cassava mosaicvirus which was a major problem that time. However later in the year 2000, scientists discovered another deadly virus, the cassava mosaic Virus.

The two viruses have since been identified having two types of viruses each namely, Cassava Brown Streak Virus (CBSV), Uganda Cassava Brown Streak Virus (UCBSV) which was first spotted in Uganda, African Cassava Mosaic Virus (ACMV) and East African Cassava Mosaic Virus (EACMV).

The ongoing research is aimed at finding solutions to curb all types of viruses.

According to Dr Alicai, it is estimated that these viruses are causing $60m in losses per, annum out of the revenue contribution the government is supposed to realise from the production of cassava.

Further estimates show that farmers especially those in the districts of Mukono and Luwero are experiencing 100 per cent loss as a result of cassava brown streak epidemic.

As the team was studying the behaviour of the virus, they got an alternative method of breeding varieties using conventional breeding. Conventional breeding is a means of developing new plant varieties by selecting the best varieties with the existing gene in plant species. Here, scientists transfer the genes by crossing the female part of the plant to the male part.

Conventional breeding employs processes that occur in nature, such as sexual and asexual reproduction. The product of conventional breeding emphasises certain characteristics which are not new to the plant

As far as the research at Namulonge is concerned, the team obtained resistant varieties from Tanzania and Colombia, and crossed them to some screened local varieties here. The breeding process here involves cutting part of the male flower from the foreign cassava and crossing it to the female flower of the local variety in order to come up with a new variety.

The team also screened about 1,000 local varieties and conducted the same crossing exercise. So far the team has identified six varieties that seem to be resistant to the viruses but are being evaluated at selected farmer's fields throughout the country to establish stability of yields and tolerance to the virus.

Once the evaluation process is done, the team will collect the data and apply to the Variety Evaluation Committee at the ministry of Agriculture to give them a go ahead to release these varieties to the farmers.

Dr Alicai is optimistic that his team will release the six varieties to farmers by next year. However the research team is not convinced that the conventional breeding method will solve the problem of eradicating the virus the reason they are conducting research using the Biotechnology method. What is different here is that the resistant genes are introduced to the local varieties in the laboratory.

Last year the scientists were conducting research to establish resistance against the EACMV. The work that was concluded in September showed some good results but for purposes of validating the exercise they are repeating the research work.

According to Dr Alicai, the next exercise is to test the same genes against the rest of the viruses. Later the team will merge the exercise against all the viruses in order to come up with cassava varieties that are resistant to all the four types of viruses.

The team hopes that by the year 2015 they would have identified the best gene that is resistant to all the viruses. The challenge of using the biotechnology method according to Dr Alicai is that since the work is done in the laboratory, there is need for reagents that are used to contact the research to always be in place but sometimes they are not available because sometimes the suppliers take long to supply them.

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Protect Vital Cassava Farming in Africa

Cassava is a starchy root crop whose tubers are a primary food source for about 800 million people worldwide, including about 250 million people who live in Africa. A relative to the rubber plant, cassava grows well in marginal conditions: its leaves remain green during Africa’s seasonal droughts. The fallen leaves give enough nutrients back to the soil that the subsistence farmers can grow it without fertilizer. Also, the cassava tolerates poor farming, making it a crop that can be grown, for example, by a farmer who is weak from malaria.

For having such a central role in the diets of so many, though, the cassava tuber is a relatively poor source of some important nutrients. Dr. Richard Sayre, head of the BioCassava Plus Project, envisioned a "super" cassava with more protein, zinc, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin E. Additional goals for the Project included increasing the size of its tubers, reducing its toxin levels (tubers contain varying levels of a form of poisonous cyanide), and boosting the plant’s resistance to diseases.

Five years ago, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave Dr. Sayre and the BioCassava Plus Project a $12 million grant to use genetic engineering to significantly improve the cassava. Because cassava is propagated by cuttings, genetic engineering methods represent a time-saving shortcut over conventional selective breeding. Before too long, however, cassava "improvement" was forced to encompass the challenge of a terrible new viral disease that still threatens Africa’s food supply. It injected a new urgency to the scientists’ work.

A virus mutation in 2004 spurred an "explosive" spread of the Brown Streak Disease from the East Africa coastal lowlands to the higher inland areas, including Uganda. These viruses are spread by tiny whiteflies. Unlike the tamer coastal version, the newer Uganda strain kills cassava plants and riddles the tubers with brown discoloration, rendering them inedible, as shown in the photo. Brown Streak Disease (for its markings on stems) has created an emergency for many farmers who are left without enough plants to produce cuttings for the upcoming season.

In the face of this cassava crisis, plant scientists have met or exceeded the goals of their research proposals, including resistance to the devastating new virus. In mid-2009, Dr.Claude Fauquet, an expert in the single-strand DNA geminiviruses that infect cassava, announced that he and his team had succeeded in creating a strain of cassava that is resistant to both versions of Cassava Brown Streak Disease. They used the same technique – called RNA interference – that had been used to create disease-specific resistance in new papaya and plum tree varieties. Dr. Fauquet’s achievement with cassava that is resistant to the Brown Streak Diseases builds on the success in increasing protein by a factor of 4, iron by a factor of 4, and vitamin A by a factor of 30, not to mention the other goals reached or exceeded.

The hope is that the new cassava will succeed during field trials in East Africa and be available to the farmers there by 2015, if not sooner. (Genetically modified crops are always carefully field-tested.)

The epicenter for U.S.-based cassava research is in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Donald Danforth Plant Sciences Center. It is home to Dr. Fauquet as well as the BioCassava Plus Project and Dr. Sayre, the grant awardee, who joined the staff in 2008. Indeed, the DanforthCenter has been a powerhouse for cassava research for a long time. Although the Center was founded in 1998, two of its most esteemed plant virologists, Dr. Fauquet and Dr. Roger Beachy, were pioneers in this area of study: in 1991, while at the Scripps Research Institute, they co-founded the International Laboratory for Tropical Agriculture Biotechnology (ILTAB).

Dr. Fauquet also founded (and still co-chairs) the Global Cassava Project. He pushed for the sequencing of the cassava genome, an initiative also funded by the Gates Foundation. The genome sequence was completed in 2009 by a team led by University of Arizona scientists and a subsidiary of Roche called 454 Life Sciences, the world leader in genome-related technology. Free access to the genome data is expected to be an invaluable resource to future endeavors.

Interest in cassava extends beyond food: China now grows it for ethanol, and a recent study of it grown in Alabama for ethanol was promising.

Indications are that experienced plant scientists in Africa who were, in large part, trained in the United States, are recognizing the need for more agriculture doctoral programs in their universities. They have been inspired by the many scientists who are responding to Africa’s cassava crisis. They liken current efforts to help Africa’s farmers to those of agriculture professors of the U.S. land grant universities during India’s Green Revolution. They helped India learn to "feed itself" during the 1950s to 1960s; by the late 1980s, India had become a net exporter of food.

Today, genetic engineering is not without its critics. However, according to a 2009 report in the Chronicle of Higher Education, most students studying agriculture in Africa’s universities argue in favor of genetic engineering. One of the new doctoral students interviewed for that article noted that GE technology could halve the time required to develop better crops for the hungry continent. "Africa missed out on the Green Revolution," he said, "so we shouldn’t miss out on the Genetic Revolution too."

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Cassava farming seminar slated

Representatives of Ginebra San Miguel Inc. will be in Silay City, Negros Occidental, Thursday for an Orientation Seminar on Cassava Farming Technology though the Agricultural and Fishery Council of Silay, AFC chairperson Reynaldo Sazon said yesterday.

Sazon said they plan to go into cassava farming once they are sure of the market, with the help of the GSMI. He said they were able to see the high potentials of the crop when GMSI presented its possible uses in beer production last December.

Sazon said high yield varieties of cassava can produce 30 to 50 tons per hectare. The tonnage can be translated into high income if the production is this much, he added.

Silay City has more than 30 hectares of unused land that can be used for cassava farming, Sazon said.

The land conversion is possible through the approval of the Silay City government and other stakeholders like the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, and the 25 cooperative and associate members of AFC, he also said.

He admitted that they do not have the post harvest facilities for cassava, they have issues with its flexible price, and they do not have the appropriate technology for its full operation.

However, the seminar that will be provided by GSMI will give them an idea how far they can invest when it comes to cassava farming, Sazon said.

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