Cassava – a viable staple alternative for people of the Caribbean

Photo courtesy

September 02, 2013:

With the rising tide of a Regional food import bill hovering at over US$2B, the consumption of root and tuber crops is assuming greater importance in the diet of all Caribbean peoples, as prices of imported carbohydrates, such as, flour and rice continue to escalate.  Root and tuber crops cultivated and consumed in the Caribbean that are of significant economic and nutritional importance are cassava, sweet potato, yam, dasheen and eddoes. 

CARDI, as the Region’s premier agriculture research for development Agency, has been, over the past ten years, leading successful trials in increased yields in cassava, in the countries of Barbados; Belize; Dominica; Guyana; Haiti; Jamaica; Montserrat; St Lucia; St Vincent and the Grenadines; and Trinidad and Tobago.  These successes have been achieved through concerted and fortuitous work in the areas of partnerships and collaborations; germplasm development, improvement and exploitation; production systems; and post-harvest technology and value added development.

In St Vincent and the Grenadines, a tissue culture laboratory was constructed.  St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister, the Honourable Dr. Ralph Gonsalves received the keys to the newly upgraded Orange Hill laboratory from CARDI’s Executive Director, Dr. Arlington Chesney an official Ceremony last year.  Five value-added cassava farine processing facilities were upgraded which now allows for increased local production.  One worker/storage facility was renovated.  This, while two hundred and fifty (250) persons were trained in all aspects of root and tuber production.

In Dominica, a hardening facility at Portsmouth was constructed.  Six cassava farine processors have been supplied with processing equipment, with one cassava bread facility being supplied with food-safe equipment.  On your way from the airport in Dominica, one of the must stop activities is to taste the roadside cassava bread on the Carib Reservation.  Cassava is therefore synonymous with the tourist experience in Dominica so CARDI’s successful work in initiating one cassava processing group, coupled with the training of more than two hundred persons in various sub-disciplines of root and tuber production augers well for the economic development of these communities.

 Whilst in Barbados, there the Ministry of Agriculture is seeking to replace some twenty percent (20%) of imported grains in feeds with cassava.  This is supported by CARDI who is assisting with germplasm acquisition, evaluation and utilisation.  Barbados’ virus testing laboratory is now fully equipped.  CARDI led in the successful construction of a shade house for rapid propagation and production of plants for distribution to farmers.  All with the assistance of the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC).

Collaboration with the Latin America and Caribbean Consortium to Support Cassava Research and Development (CLAYUCCA) was strengthened with the signing of a new CARDI/CLAYUCCA Memorandum of Understanding.  Areas for collaboration include:

  • Capacity building programmes
  • Introduction and exchange of germplasm
  • Development of joint research and technology transfer projects

Through collaboration with the Global Crop Diversity Trust, Guyana’s germplasm collections were regenerated.  In St Lucia, multiplication plots (each 0.25 ha in size) have been established to be used for distribution to farmers.  Germplasm banks have been established in Barbados, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.

Collaborative work between CARDI and the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) resulted in the design and construction of a cassava processing machine in Monsterrat.  This has allowed for stakeholders to produce a range of cassava-based products, inclusive of bread.

CARDI continues to be a premier source of ‘clean planting material’ for cassava farmers across the Region.



Contact: CARDI’s Office|868|645|1205

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