Cassava (Manihot Esculenta) At The Origin Of Tapioca



Cassava is a perennial crop grown as an annual in the tropics and subtropics that produces a root vegetable from which flour, starch and tapioca are made. Originally from Brazil, cassava was imported to Africa by Europeans in the 16th century.

cassava planting

The shrub forms tree tufts up to 3 or 4 meters high, with a root system composed of tracer roots that become tuberous and are harvested for consumption: the brown tuberous roots with white flesh can reach 50cm long and about ten centimeters in diameter. The alternate, palmate leaves 30 to 40 cm long have 5 or 7 lobes, and their petioles 5 to 25 cm long are dark red. Small, yellowish, unisexual flowers in panicles develop with male flowers at the tip. Then fruits in capsules form in which seeds are lodged.

All parts of cassava produce a toxic, milky, white latex that contains linamarin as part of cyanogenic glucosides causing chronic to acute poisoning that can lead to death, which requires that bitter cassava be detoxified, i.e. grated, washed, dried and cooked before being eaten: in general, cooking is sufficient to substantially reduce the level of linamarin. Sweet cassava contains very little of it and is therefore easier to cook.

In terms of nutrition, cassava (131 kcal / 100g) is very rich in carbohydrates (starch) but gluten free. Its leaves are a source of protein and vitamins A and C. This food also provides magnesium and potassium.

  • Family: Euphorbiaceae
  • Type: Perennial grown in annual
  • Origin: Brazil, South America
  • Color: yellow flowers
  • Sowing: no
  • Cutting: yes
  • Planting: autumn
  • Harvest: 8 to 18 months after planting
  • Height: up to 5 m depending on the species

Ideal soil and exposure for cassava

Cassava is grown in the heat, in full sun in a light soil, loose, even poor. It is drought resistant but can grow in moist soil if well drained.

Date of cuttings and planting of cassava

The pieces of tubers are planted at the end of the dry season which corresponds, for example for Africa, to October approximately.

Board of maintenance and culture of cassava

Cassava is easy to grow, but you have to work the soil well, loosen it so that the roots grow unhindered. Given that it matures between 8 and 18 months after planting, it is often grown with other crops at a faster maturity (maize, okra, peanut...).

Harvesting, conservation and use of cassava

Harvesting is done manually and starts from 7 to 8 months after planting. As the roots are poorly preserved, it is better to harvest them as and when needed knowing that with time they become woody.

Cooked fresh manioc is mainly used for human consumption, in the same way as potatoes (fried, boiled, with meat or fish). When processed into flour or starch (tapioca), it is integrated into traditional African recipes such as fufu for example.

tuberous roots of cassava

Diseases, pests and parasites of cassava

Cassava is often affected by cassava mosaic virus, cassava brown streak virus and cassava mealybugs.

Location and favorable association of cassava

It is a plant that is not grown in pots. Cassava needs the land to remain at its disposal for almost two years. Crop rotation is necessary to maintain some soil fertility: planting cassava after squash, corn, sorghum or improved fallow will be beneficial.

There are bitter cassava (very toxic, requiring a preparation to make it consumable) and sweet cassava (which contains almost no toxic substances).

There are many cassava cultivars selected for yield, storage, disease and pest resistance.


Video: Sri Lanka,ශ්u200dරී ලංකා,Ceylon,Maniok,Cassava,Manihot esculenta.


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