Hot off the press: new cassava reference manual for Asia
The new cassava reference manual, “Sustainable Soil and Crop Management of Cassava in Asia”, by CIAT Emeritus Reinhardt Howeler, is now available from CIAT. Supported by the Nippon Foundation, the book is an extensive review of around four decades of research by CIAT staff in Colombia, together with colleagues in national institutes and farmers in many cassava-growing countries in Asia.
It documents research conducted together with national partners to markedly increase cassava yields in Asia; first, by developing new higher yielding cassava varieties, and secondly to improve many aspects of the crop’s agronomic management, especially the balanced application of chemical fertilizers and manures, and effective ways to reduce erosion to protect the soil from degradation and enhance adoption of more sustainable management techniques by farmers.
Central to this book is a unique method of cassava production technology and extension, which adopts both practical agricultural and social science approaches, called Farmer Participatory Research (FPR). The basic principles of this methodology were earlier developed at CIAT in Colombia, but were adapted to different situations in various Asian countries by Howeler and his colleagues in national research and extension organizations.
It encouraged farmers in specific villages to diagnose their own production problems, and then presented them with possible solutions. The farmers were asked to evaluate and select those options most suitable for their own conditions. In testing their selected solutions in simple FPR trials on their own fields, farmers developed the best cassava varieties and agronomic practices adapted to their bio-physical and socio-economic environment, and according to their own specific objectives and needs.
As a result, farmers participating in these research activities, as well as others participating in field days and training courses, showed a high rate of adoption of new cassava varieties and improved management, and transformed their farming practices from the knowledge they had generated together.
This cassava reference manual discusses aspects of cassava crop and soil management that will provide a comprehensive guide for those with interests in research, extension, the private sector and agricultural policy.
Given the increasing demand for cassava as a raw material in livestock feed, food products, paper, textile, pharmaceutical industries and even for production of bio-fuel – these various markets present huge opportunities for marginal upland farmers, who typically grow cassava, to improve their income and livelihoods.
These research results provide valuable guidance to ensure that the growing demand – globally annual cassava production has jumped an estimated 100 million tonnes since 2000 – is met in a sustainable way.
To obtain a hard copy, contact g.smith[at]cgiar.org or download the PDF here.