Cassava’s Drought Tolerance Aids Warming World
Cassava is a staple food in the developing world, serving as the base diet for more than 750 million people. It’s the second greatest source of energy after maize and a consistent source of income for farmers, even under tough environmental conditions.
Cassava is also one of the most drought-tolerant crops in the world, capable of growing on marginal land. With climate change, resilient cassava may become even more important. That’s especially true in Africa, which produces 60 per cent of the planet’s cassava. Over 200 million Africans survive on it when other crops fail.
To capitalize on cassava’s natural tolerance to drought and poor soils, the Global Cassava Partnership – an alliance of 45 organizations – is working to develop new varieties that are even more tolerant to long periods of drought. Such varieties are likely to be adopted by farmers if they can find markets for crop surpluses. Cassava is used in hundreds of products such as flour, syrup, paper, glue, animal feed and ethanol.