Cassava is the most important tropical root crop. Its starchy roots are a major source of dietary energy for more than 500 million people. It is known to be the highest producer of carbohydrates among staple crops. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), cassava ranks fourth as a food crop in the developing countries, after rice, maize and wheat. The leaves are relatively rich in protein and can be consumed. Cassava can be stored in the ground for several seasons, thereby serving as a reserve food when other crops fail. Cassava is also increasingly used as an animal feed and in the manufacture of different industrial products. It is also used in industrial processes.
World cassava production is projected to increase to 209 million tons (fresh weight) by 2005 or 2.2 per cent annually as in the past, reflecting both yield improvements and area expansion. World utilization is projected to increase by 2.3 per cent annually to 209 million tons. Sixty per cent of the total demand is for food, the remainder for other uses.
Global cassava trade is projected to increase by 1.6 per cent by 2005, that is, from the 4.8 million tons produced from 1993-1995 to 5.8 million tons (dry weight) in 2005, reflecting moderate growth in import demand for cassava feed and other novel cassava food and non-food products. However, cassava for feed is projected to continue to account for over three-quarters of the world cassava trade and flours and starches for food and industrial uses for the remainder.