A Gift of Cassava Keeps on Giving in the Central African Republic

A Gift of Cassava Keeps on Giving in the Central African Republic

A gift of disease-resistant cassava (manioc) from a program-to-program visit is bringing greater food security to participants and neighbors in FRB’s CAR-Gamboula program.

When the program’s director, Benoît, traveled with FRB to Uganda in 2010 to exchange knowledge and practices with program participants from around East Africa, his Zambian roommate offered him a 2-foot section of a cassava cutting from a plant which was said to be resistant to cassava mosaic virus (CMV). Cassava is a staple food in the Central African Republic, so when local varieties were attacked by CMV, widespread hunger followed. Benoît knew that a CMV-resistant variety would be a godsend.

Benoît eagerly planted his “Uganda” cassava on his return, and a year later dug up roots that weighed an astonishing 74 lbs. as compared to the 19 lbs. averaged by the best local variety.  The program distributed cuttings among participants who are now harvesting this high-yielding cassava and comparing it to elephant tusks in size and value. It is very low in cyanic acid and produces good flour. The unit of measure in CAR is the cuvette, a large basin: families are harvesting 2 basins a week, enough for family consumption and extra to sell for income. One group representative said, “Now we are talking food security!”

Whenever program staff carries the plant material to supply its partner co-ops, many of the stops in towns along the way create quite a stir as everyone hopes to get a small amount of the new cassava. The variety has made a striking impact not just in the communities involved but in the whole region.

A recent program report included this message of gratitude: “We extend our sincere thanks to our regular donors such as FRB for their financial support, to our staff, and to the co-op partners for their positive participation in program activities.”  

The Central African Republic- Gamboula Program encompasses 13 communities, 250 households, and 2000 individuals.

02/28/2013 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment