Cassava
 
Despite its importance as a staple crop and industrial raw material, cassava has often been neglected in agricultural development policies

Global Cassava Development Strategy

Background

FAO's rationale for developing a Global Cassava Development Strategy is the belief that the crop will contribute to the economic development of cassava producers and processers and the well-being of numerous disadvantaged communities and individuals around the world.

The broad agro-ecological adaptability of cassava, and its ability to produce reasonable yields where most crops cannot, make it the basis for food security at household level and an important source of dietary energy. The crop is an essential part of the diet of more than half a billion people and provides a livelihood for millions of farmers, processors and traders worldwide.

Despite its importance as a staple crop and industrial raw material, and its contribution to fighting hunger and poverty in developing countries, cassava has often been neglected in agricultural development policies and has received considerably less emphasis in genetic improvement and biotechnology than most other major food crops.

The Global Strategy is the result of the visionary efforts, dating from 1996, of a number of individuals and institutions that have spurred renewed interest in cassava and its links to the development process. The revival of interest in cassava can be traced back to May 1996, when a meeting called by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) decided to form a Task Force to spearhead the development of a strategy for cassava.

The goal of the Task Force was to realize the shared vision for cassava and move it closer to action and reality. In 1998, international experts prepared a Global Cassava Development Strategy (GCDS) document. The GCDS was officially endorsed by stakeholders at a Validation Forum held at the headquarters of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome in April 2000. An implementation plan was also adopted.

A coordination group composed of representatives of the organizations playing an active role in the development and endorsement of the Strategy will be responsible for the facilitation of the coordination of the Strategy.

Implementation

The Implementation Plan draws on the principles outlined in the strategy document and takes into consideration the priorities established by representatives of the public and private sectors during the various consultation meetings held in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. The Plan also reflects the discussions and conclusions reached by the participants in the GCDS Validation Forum.

It was agreed at the Forum that FAO, in its position as an international organization, supported by a large number of Member Governments, has a key facilitation role to play in the implementation of the Strategy. In the first place, FAO will publish the report of the Validation Forum using funds made available by IFAD. FAO will also be responsible for the maintenance, updating and enhancement of the GCDS Web site, which is already accessible through FAO's Web page. It was acknowledged, however, that commitments were also required from other organizations to assist in promoting and coordinating the implementation of the Strategy.