A well-known cassava expert once stated that “the best cassava agronomist is a stable price.” This implies that if prices are stable for this very interesting crop, cassava producers will make better choices regarding their investment in this crop. Is this really the case?
The Global Futures & Strategic Foresight (GFSF) project team seeks to help answer this question among many others. GFSF is designed to improve agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability, especially in developing countries, through helping producers and researchers make better decisions about their investment priorities. Given the potential of cassava as a means to bring smallholder farmers out of poverty and into agro-industrial and commercially viable value chains, cassava definitely needs a second look.
In order to better understand the regional variability, complexity, and nearly infinite number of subtleties associated with cassava value chains, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) GFSF Team invited cassava experts from around the world to a workshop held in Palmira, Colombia, from 24 to 26 August, 2016.
Who were the participants?
The workshop brought together experts in cassava value chains, economics, agronomy, crop science, and representatives from the public and private sectors, as well as from CGIAR Research Centers: International Potato Center (CIP), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and CIAT; and CLAYUCA Corporation, Almidones de Sucre, Agrollanos, CODIPSA, PODIUM Alimentos, GCP21 project, Universidad el Valle in Cali, African Development Bank (AfDB), Acro Bio-Tech, and Commoditia.
What did we learn?
A lot! The presentations from the workshop addressed a broad range of issues, challenges, and opportunities associated with cassava and its value chains. In 1985, James Cock, CIAT Emeritus Scientist and co-organizer of the workshop, authored a book highlighting the new potential for a “neglected crop.” While definitely cassava is no longer a neglected crop, more than 30 years later, it is clear that we are still exploring its new potentials!