Cassava is an important staple food crop for one-third of Africa’s population who rely on its starchy tuberous roots for over 50% of their daily caloric intake.It is an excellent source of carbohydrates and calories. It is a hardy crop, growing relatively well in conditions of heat, drought and low soil fertility prevalent in many African countries.
Cassava is an important cash crop used in the manufacturing of biofuel, beverages and processed products across Africa, providing steady markets and income for smallholder farmers.
However, cassava farmers and consumers in Africa face two significant challenges:
Plant viral diseases can destroy up to 100 percent of a cassava crop yield, threatening livelihoods and leading to hunger.
Cassava roots do not contain the key nutrients iron and zinc at levels that are adequate to meet minimum daily requirements, especially for women and children.
The VIRCA Plus project is developing virus disease resistant and nutritionally enhanced cassava varieties for Africa.