Cassava ‘offers climate change hope’ for Africa
March 2nd 2012
The cassava plant could help African farmers cope with climate change, a scientific report Is Cassava the Answer to African Climate Change Adaptation? says. ‘It’s like the Rambo of the food crops,’ said report author Andy Jarvis, of the Colombia-based International Center for Tropical Agriculture.
‘Whilst other staples can suffer from heat and other problems of climate change, cassava thrives.’ said Mr Jarvis. The root crop is already one of the most widely consumed staple foods on the continent. But the report also stresses the need for more research to make cassava more resistant to pests and disease. Last November, UN scientists warned that a virus was attacking the crop, nearing an epidemic in parts of Africa. Viral infections have periodically wiped out the crop in some regions leading to famine. We have very few good stories where we see crops doing equal or better under climate change and finally we’ve found one with cassava’.
According to the researchers of the report it is now the second most important source of carbohydrate on the continent, where it is consumed by around 500 million people every day. Cassava outperformed six other staple crops in sub-Saharan Africa – potato, maize, bean, banana, millet, and sorghum – in 24 climate prediction models, the report says. The plant grows well in high temperatures and if drought hits it ‘shuts down’ until the rains come again, the scientists said. ‘We have very few good stories where we see crops doing equal or better under climate change and finally we’ve found one with cassava,’ Mr Jarvis told the BBC’s Network Africa programme.
Read the full article: BBC News
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