The continuous increase in the supply and demand of cassava in developing countries has accentuated the negative impact cassava production and processing has had on the environment and biodiversity. Cassava is mostly produced by small-scale farmers on marginal soils and fragile environments in Africa, Asia and, Latin America and the Caribbean, where animal manure and chemical fertilizers are not commonly applied to the cassava crop. Expanded cassava production has resulted in deforestation, annual burning of indigenous vegetation, replaced fallow land or shortened fallow period. These factors have, in turn, contributed to soil erosion, depletion of soil nutrient supply, and loss of biodiversity.
The large-scale expansion of cassava processing has created improperly stored waste in the form of peels or fibrous by-products, which cause a very unpleasant odour, and depleted the water resources. In view of the above, new strategies are needed to balance the current need for food and fodder while maintaining a healthy environment for future generations.
As part of the effort to develop the Global Cassava Strategy, IFAD's generous financial contribution was fundamental in the preparation of an assessment, which analyzed the effects of smallholder cassava production and processing on the environment and biodiversity. The outcome of this study was presented at the International Validation Forum on the Global Cassava Development Strategy, jointly organized by FAO and IFAD, at FAO Headquarters in Rome, from 26 to 28 April 2000. The Forum officially endorsed the Strategy and adopted a plan outlining a sequence of follow-up actions for its implementation.
The Crop and Grassland Service has compiled these findings in the Proceedings of the Validation Forum for distribution 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 other interested individuals.
We trust this information will not only increase awareness on the environmental problems related to cassava production and processing, but also effectively contribute to the development of new technologies and well-defined policies to sustain the natural resource base.
We express our gratitude to Dr. Clair Hershey for editing this document, and I personally thank Mr. NeBambi Lutaladio for his dedication to the Global Cassava Strategy, from which this publication has come forth.
Eric A. Kueneman
Crop and Grassland Service
Plant Production and Protection Division
Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations