August 27, 2020

Starchy root crop of cassava

Cassava (Manihot esculenta Cralztz) is a starchy root crop which is an essential food eaten mainly by developing countries. The root tuber and leaves are edible and serve as source of nutritional food for about 500 million people and more worldwide.

Its cultivation provides significant income to small producers around the world. Cassava tubers as well as its by-products are sold everywhere without difficulty.

Cassava is the third most important source of calories in the tropics after rice and maize. Its processed products contain an important proportion of carbohydrates (mainly starch) and minerals.

This shrub, growing to around 1 to 4 meters in height, is cultivated for its tubers and leaves. The tubers are rich in starch. The stems are used as planting material.

Cassava leaves contain protein, vitamins (A and C), and a lot of mineral salts. Cassava is cultivated both as food (for human and animals) and as industrial raw material. The most important industrial utilizations of cassava are ethanol, starch, biofuel, flour, biscuits, bread, jelly, thickening agents, gravies, custard powders, babies’ food, glucose, and confectioneries.

The major cassava planting season is mainly during the rainy season from April to November. Generally, the crop needs a warm and humid climate to grow with temperatures averaging 25-27ÂșC.

The tropical lowlands with altitude below 150 m with annual rainfall from 500 mm to 5,000 mm are most suitable for higher root yield. Because the plant is resistance to prolong drought it is able to thrive in regions where annual rainfall is low or where seasonal distribution is irregular.

The crop is also able to grow on poor and degraded soil because it can withstand low pH, high level of exchangeable aluminum and low concentration of phosphorus in the soil matrix.

During growth, the shrubs produce several tuberous roots as reserves made of up to 35% starch which may reach up to 1 m in length and together may weigh up to 40 kg. Cassava produces small, regular female and male flowers in small clusters.

Cassava is usually processed immediately after it is taken from the ground because it is highly perishable. Spoiling starts within 48 to 72 hours after harvest. A mature cassava root (hereafter referred to as 'root') may range in length from 15 to 100 cm and weigh 0.5 to 2.5 kg. Circular in cross-section, it is usually fattest at the proximal end and tapers slightly towards the distal portion.
Starchy root crop of cassava
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