7 Aug 2008

UN encourages development of Pacific Cassava crop

10:24 am on 7 August 2008

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation says growing more cassava could help the food and energy security of developing Pacific countries facing soaring food and fuel prices.

Cassava scientists recently met in Belgium and called for more research and development to boost farmers' yields of the crop.

The Apia-based FAO Food and Nutrition Officer Dirk Schulz says cassava is a staple food in the Pacific region and readily available.

"Cassava or manioca, as its known in some countries, is an important crop for food security globally and in most Pacific Island countries, in particular Melanesian countries like Fiji Vanuatu or PNG. Particularly with these days rising food prices..countries are looking for alternatives to produce food locally and cassava has a starchy root and is an important source of energy and carbs."

Dirk Schulz says the crop adapts well to poor soil and low rainfall.