Comparing cassava value chains in the global context

Comparing cassava value chains in the global context

A well-known cassava expert once stated that “the best cassava agronomist is a stable price.”  This implies that if prices are stable for this very interesting crop, cassava producers will make better choices regarding their investment in this crop. Is this really the case?

The Global Futures & Strategic Foresight (GFSF) project team seeks to help answer this question among many others. GFSF is designed to improve agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability, especially in developing countries, through helping producers and researchers make better decisions about their investment priorities. Given the potential of cassava as a means to bring smallholder farmers out of poverty and into agro-industrial and commercially viable value chains, cassava definitely needs a second look.

In order to better understand the regional variability, complexity, and nearly infinite number of subtleties associated with cassava value chains, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) GFSF Team invited cassava experts from around the world to a workshop held in Palmira, Colombia, from 24 to 26 August, 2016.

Who were the participants?

The workshop brought together experts in cassava value chains, economics, agronomy, crop science, and representatives from the public and private sectors, as well as from CGIAR Research Centers: International Potato Center (CIP), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and CIAT; and CLAYUCA CorporationAlmidones de Sucre, Agrollanos, CODIPSAPODIUM Alimentos, GCP21 project, Universidad el Valle in Cali, African Development Bank (AfDB), Acro Bio-Tech, and Commoditia.

What did we learn?

A lot! The presentations from the workshop addressed a broad range of issues, challenges, and opportunities associated with cassava and its value chains. In 1985, James Cock, CIAT Emeritus Scientist and co-organizer of the workshop, authored a book highlighting the new potential for a “neglected crop.” While definitely cassava is no longer a neglected crop, more than 30 years later, it is clear that we are still exploring its new potentials!

Learn more: slideshows showcased in the event
Global Future and Strategic Foresight Project Team.


Speaker: Daniel Mason-D’Croz, Senior Research Assistant for IFPRI, presented the IMPACT model, a partial equilibrium economic model developed by IFPRI to model the agricultural system.
Speaker: Simon Bently, representative of the Commoditia corporation, provoked the audience with a frank overview of the global trade in carbohydrates and trends in trade of cassava and related product.
Speaker: Glenn Hyman, Scientist from CIAT. Roots, Tubers and Bananas – RTB Maps for Cassava.
Speaker: Bernardo Ospina Executive director – CLAYUCA, he offered an interesting analysis about the cassava industry differences between Colombia and Thailand.
Speaker: Hans Theodor Regier, Executive director – CODIPSA, detailed the “ingredients” of a success cassava-based enterprise with a key social responsibility component.
Speaker: Hernan Ceballos, Senior Scientist at CIAT-Colombia, offered a great deal of insight on the linkages between cassava research and the cassava industry
Speaker: Liang Guo Tao, representative from ACRO BIO-TECH, presented an interesting overview of the challenges associated with different scales of cassava production and underscored the need for innovation within the sector.
Speaker: Ivo Pierin Junior, one of the co-founders of PODIUM Alimentos, discussed the importance of a holistic vision and mission with respect to cassava-based value chains and shared an institutional video. This Brazilian company illustrates high level use of technology and cassava value chain integration
Speaker: Tin Maung Aye, representative from CIAT-Vietnam, focused his presentation on cassava crop technologies and other issues with the potential to affect smallholder farmers in SE Asia.
Speaker: Claude Fouquet Executive director – GCP21, offered a presentation about the challenges the cassava and how to face them, especially with an emphasis on issues in Africa.
Speaker: Iheanacho Okike, an expert in cassava with ILRI, offered an interesting review on animal feed constraints in Africa and how cassava peel can play an important role in the feed supply.
Speaker: Thierry Tran, of CIAT-Colombia and contributor to the Roots, Tubers and Bananas project, spoke on the inputs, outputs and externalities associated with different cassava production and processing systems.

Global Futures and Strategic Foresight (GFSF) project CIAT team members:

Steven D. Prager

Steven D. Prager

Senior Scientist for Integrated Modeling

[email protected]
Patricia Álvarez Toro

Patricia Álvarez Toro

Agronomist, Research Assistant

[email protected]
Carlos González

Carlos González

Economist, Research Assistant

[email protected]
The workshop was co-organized with the assistance of James Cock, CIAT Emeritus Scientist and former Cassava Program leader. James played an important role in developing the workshop concept and working with the GFSF team to help ensure a diverse set of participants with a truly global perspective.