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The importance of cassava in the agricultural economy of many tropical countries has grown remarkably in recent years. Governments, institutions and individuals are seriously interested in studying problems concerning the production, processing and marketing of cassava and cassava products.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has been especially interested in this subject. The first edition of this publication was published in 1956, and since then FAO has carried out many studies in various countries, mostly upon the request of the governments concerned. Although reports of these studies are listed in the bibliography, summaries of the most important of them are presented below.
The Government of the Federation of Nigeria was determined to develop light and rural industries and especially to mechanize the manufacture of the cassava product gari. For this purpose it requested FAO to advise on the improvement and development of gari processing in the pilot plant established for this purpose at the Federal Institute of Industrial Research in Lagos and to study the possibility of commercial processing of cassava.
After completion of his mission, G.W. Bäumer, FAO expert, submitted his report (1962), which included the following main recommendations:
(a) mechanized processing of gari should be improved;
(b) establishment of gari processing plants should be encouraged;
(c) the manufacture of other cassava products should be encouraged.
In order to stabilize the rural economy, the Government of the Dominican Republic decided to promote the diversification of agricultural crops other than the traditional ones, such as sugar, coffee and cocoa. For this purpose it requested FAO to advise on the possible development of cassava culture and the processing of cassava starch and other products derived from cassava. L.W. Holleman was assigned as FAO expert; his report (1964) included the following recommendations:
(a) extension of the planted area and promotion of new agricultural methods;
(b) improvement of the methods of preparing cassava and other local food products made of cassava;
(c) introduction of cassava chips manufacture as a rural industry;
(d) establishment of a cassava starch factory of medium size;
(e) introduction of cassava starch in industries as a substitute for other starches.
At the request of the Government of Colombia, an FAO/UNDP mission was sent to Colombia in 1967 to start a pilot project for the production, processing and utilization of composite flour made from locally produced raw materials. A member of the mission, R. Gallien, made a technical and economic survey on cassava in Colombia; the mission's report included the following main recommendations.
(a) The Government should initiate a feasibility study for one year, including the preparation of baked products made of locally produced raw materials, the testing of those products and the possibility of their acceptance by the public.
(b) From the results of this study, a detailed cost-structure analysis should be made. The Government should redefine its policies regarding cassava and soya production and processing to allow commercial bakeries to be provided with sufficient quantities of composite flours of standard quality at a price competitive with wheat flour.
The Food Research and Development Unit in Accra (FAD/SF project) submitted a report ( 1968) dealing with crop storage problems, including the role of relative humidity in deterioration by microorganisms and its relationship to the moisture content of stored foodstuffs and the application of insecticides.
The preservation of cassava tubers by dehydration and the preparation of the local kokonte flour from cassava were investigated.
The Government of Malaysia is attempting to diversify agriculture to decrease the country's dependence on one crop - rubber. Cassava is among the major crops which have been considered for this purpose. At the Government's request, a study was conducted through the FAO-sponsored Food Technology Research and Development Centre on the production, processing and marketing of cassava and cassava products.
The FAO experts M.R. Grace, O. Wahby and C. Ericksen submitted a report ( 1970), which included the following main recommendations.
(a) Cassava can occupy an important place in the agricultural diversifcation programme. However, there is a need to improve agricultural practices and the selection of new varieties.
(b) The present cassava-products industry should be improved and new equipment should be introduced for modernizing the industry.
(c) There is a need to establish an industrial board to promote the production, processing and marketing of cassava starch and its products. Special attention should be given to the improvement of quality and the lowering of prices of various products in order to compete in the world market.
(d) The establishment of a local livestock feed industry using cassava products should be encouraged.
One of the problems which was studied by the FAO-sponsored Institute of Food Technology at Dakar was the possibility of making French-type bread of wheat flour mixed with different local products' including cassava starch, millet flour, soya and others.
In order to improve the standard of living of the farmers, the Government of Sri Lanka asked FAO to provide some technical aid and demonstration equipment for the processing of cassava. Accordingly, FAO drafted a proj ect, "Demonstration and Training in the Processing of Cassava in Ceylon." and J.A. Nijholt was appointed as an expert for this purpose. After completion of his assignment' the expert submitted his report (1964) which included the following main recommendations:
(a) to select new varieties and to improve the agricultural practices in order to increase the yield of cassava roots;
(b) to teach in farm schools the making of dried chips starch and sago products from cassava with simple equipment for home use;
(c) to establish three factories for cassava starch to replace imports.
The economy is based on agricultural production and sugarcane has been grown since the twelfth century, but still basic foodstuffs represent 40 percent of imports. In order to revive the ancient sugar industry and to become more self-sufficient in staple food crops' the Government of Tanzania requested assistance from FAO in the form of the services of experts in agricultural industries. A. Eisenloeffel and J. Fischer' the FAO experts assigned for this purpose, recommended in their report (1967) that the Government should encourage the production and local consumption of cassava. organize the marketing of cassava and promote cassava drying and the milling industry for export.
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