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Cassava is one of the most strategic crops throughout the tropical world. It is an essential part of the diet of more than half a billion people and it provides livelihood for millions of farmers, processors and traders around the world. Cassava, despite its importance as a staple crop and industrial raw material, and its contribution in fighting hunger and poverty in developing countries, has often been neglected in agricultural development policies.

Given the projected increase in supply and demand, the importance of cassava is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. To promote cassava further and increase its production and utilization in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean in the future, FAO and IFAD in collaboration with CIAT, CIRAD, IITA and NRI, recognized the need to formulate an overall strategic plan for cassava development. Thanks to the generous financial support of IFAD, World Bank, Swiss Development Cooperation and IDRC, a number of country case studies, regional reviews and cross-cutting thematic papers were prepared to provide the basis for the Global Cassava Development Strategy document.

The International Validation Forum, jointly organized by FAO and IFAD, at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy, from 26 to 28 April 2000, officially endorsed the strategy document and adopted a plan of follow up actions for the Global Cassava Development Strategy. FAO, in its status as an international organization supported by its Member Countries, will play a key role in facilitating the implementation of the strategy.

The Plant Production and Protection Division of FAO has compiled the documents prepared during the process of building the strategy and the papers presented at the Forum. The Division is now pleased to publish the Proceedings of the Validation Forum in order to disseminate the information to stakeholders, cassava producers and their organizations, governments and policy makers, donors, technical and research institutions and their networks, NGOs and their networks, the private sector as well as to scholars, experts and individuals in the developing world.

We trust that these Proceedings will contribute to increasing the production of cassava globally, and will help to overcome the neglect to which this crop has long been subjected.

Mahmud Duwayri
Plant Production and Protection Division
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations iii

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