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Historically, cassava has played a minor role as an ingredient in livestock feed in sub-Saharan Africa as cassava was often more expensive than imported maize for this purpose. However, the recent rising cost of maize on the continent due to weather induced fluctuations, huge foreign debts and currency devaluation has forced a number of countries in Africa to look inwards for alternatives to maize particularly for its livestock sub sector. With restricted fertilizer availability and frequent drought in many regions of Africa, local production of this commodity has dwindled and yield is becoming increasingly unpredictable.

Livestock production systems in Africa remain largely traditional with over 90 percent reared on the extensive system of management depending largely on poor quality forage and occasional supplement from food wastes. The share of African cassava production used as livestock feed is estimated at 6 percent of the total production. It is probably underestimated because cassava roots and leaves are fed to sheep, goat and pigs on small-scale farms in the cassava producing areas, either in fresh or cut-and-dried form or as by-products of cassava processing.

With higher productivity expected from new improved varieties and cost saving production and processing technologies, a surplus in cassava production is anticipated that could lower the farm price of cassava. This scenario has led to growing interest among government authorities, the private sector and researchers in Africa on the improvement of processing and utilization of cassava for its livestock industry, which is currently faced with a limited supply of raw materials.

The need to diversify and expand cassava usage into new growth markets had prompted the development of the Global Cassava Development Strategy that was formulated by the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with selected national institutions, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Natural Resources Institute (NRI). The strategy was endorsed at the International Validation Forum jointly organized by FAO and IFAD in Rome, Italy in April 2000. It suggests that cassava development should be demand-driven, and take advantage of market opportunities for traditional and new products.

In line with the strategy, presidential initiatives on cassava have been recently developed in West African countries of Nigeria, Ghana and Benin to tap on the huge domestic market for cassava as raw material for industry and create opportunities for income generation of the rural population. The use of cassava in the animal feeds industry may be one of the important starting points of introducing cassava in the main stream industrial processing as the quality of the required cassava material may not be as stringent as in other industrial uses.

However, important questions need to be answered such as what can be done to increase the use of cassava in livestock feed in Africa. And, to what extent does cassava provide a balanced and/or an important cost-effective input into the feed mix and how will it compare with other feed ingredients.

This case study documents research findings and existing data from micro-sample surveys on cassava usage in livestock feed in selected African countries. It summarizes the livestock production and feeding patterns on the continent and contributes to the better understanding of the competitiveness of cassava as compared with cereals. Strategies for expanding cassava beyond its traditional use as food and its transformation to livestock feed component in sub-Saharan Africa are recommended.

We trust that the information available will not only increase awareness on the new uses and opportunities in livestock feed and the need for favourable policies to enhance cassava competitiveness and marketing but will also effectively contribute to the adoption by farmers and livestock feed producers of cassava root and leaf meal-based formulations with partial or complete replacement of maize for livestock species in Africa.

Mahmoud B. Solh
Plant Production and Protection Division
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

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