The GCP21 Vision

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The overall scope and strategy of GCP21 are to develop a global vision for the crop, to develop a global information platform for the crop, and to enhance its status from a “poor man’s crop” to one that is indispensable to addressing world hunger and food insecurity. To achieve this vision, GCP21 will be a catalyst for collaboration in the entire cassava community.

Developing a Global Vision for Cassava

Our vision is for accelerated improvements along the cassava value chain to help farmers, entrepreneurs, and consumers improve their food security, incomes, and opportunities to participate in value addition and rural economic development, especially in Africa. This vision can be divided into three parts:

  • Families achieve significantly improved food and nutritional security, improved health status, and increased income based on improved, reliable, sustainable cassava yields with improved nutritional content.
  • Families increase their income by marketing higher quantities of high-quality fresh cassava roots as well as traditional and processed cassava products in rural and urban markets.
  • Cassava is a driving force in rural development and poverty reduction through industrial production, processing, and marketing of specialized cassava products for food and industry.

To realize this vision, significant investments are required to overcome the constraints and challenges facing the crop. All available opportunities must be exploited to capitalize on advances in cassava science and technology.

Technical challenges and opportunities. Priority technical challenges are cassava viruses and their whitefly vectors, weeds, low nutritive quality, and postharvest physiological degradation. Other challenges are long maturation duration, low and unstable dry matter and starch contents, high cyanogenic levels, poor cooking qualities, cassava bacterial blight, and root rot in poorly drained soils. Unfavorable plant architecture and low nitrogen-use efficiency will also need attention. Cross-cutting issues that will need to be addressed to accelerate advances in breeding and genetic improvement include doubled haploids, heterosis and apomixis, genome-wide selection technology, development of cassava artificial seeds for commercial production, genomics and bioinformatics, and use of cassava waste to produce high-quality feeds.

Development challenges and needs. Among the major issues affecting the poor productivity of cassava are poor crop management and the lack of markets for products made from cassava. These issues have been solved in countries where cassava has been industrialized, though not yet in Africa. Current efforts consist of developing a strategy based on cassava as a major contributor to food security, increasing income generation potential through marketing of traditional and processed cassava products, and driving rural development through industrial cassava production for food and industrial purposes. An expanding percentage of cassava production in Africa will have to be industrialized to make an array of local products that will help to support a sustainable seed system and extension services, in turn benefiting smallholders.

Alleviating poverty, freeing-up women and children for more valued activities and education. Cassava is mainly cultivated by families living in poverty, because it requires only minimal inputs and grows on marginal lands. Increasing the productivity of this crop will help these families to improve their food security and pull themselves up from poverty. Women and children in particular are heavily involved in the production, processing, and marketing of cassava. Topics of attention for GCP21 will include reducing labor requirements for weed control in cassava fields and improving the efficacy of cassava processing so that children can focus more on their education and women can expand their financial resources to invest in the education, nutrition, and health of their children. GCP21 will consistently give priority focus to topics that are important for the welfare, education, and health of women and children.

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