According to the FAO, cassava is one of the world’s most important food crops, with annual global production of approximately 276 million metric tons (MT) in 2013.
African countries account for the majority of global production, at approximately 158 million MT (57%) in 2013.
Despite widespread subsistence cultivation of cassava, especially in Africa, the crop’s derivatives have enormous potential for use in industrial processing.
The main industrial products that can be made from cassava are cassava chips, high quality cassava flour, starch, and ethanol.
Cassava is a special crop that serves a variety of purposes in Ghana.
Cassava serves as a chain that produces many foods in Ghana.
Apart from its commercial importance, cassava is heavily consumed by Ghanaians domestically.
Through its spread, cassava has easily become a commercial crop for most farm households.
This has been due to the ability of the crop to withstand drought and survive under harsh conditions.
Cassava as a food security crop is consumed by almost all households in Ghana.
This is either in the form of gari, tapioca, fufu or konkonte which are local Ghanaian dishes.
Cassava is very important to the food security status of the Ghanaian household such that much of household income is spent on it.
According to MOFA, cassava as a food security and commercial crop is produced in all agro-ecological zones in Ghana.
In terms of administrative locations, the crop is produced in eight regions out of the ten regions in Ghana (IFPRI and PBS, 2007).
The two non- producing regions are Upper East and Upper West which recorded zero hectares in 2005
Information from MOFA showed that from 1997 to 2005, the average cropped area for cassava was 730,060 ha coming second after maize with 759,786 ha.
However, averaging 1997-2005 production figures, cassava came first in terms of production volume with an average of 9, 219, 049MT, yam second with 3, 551, 607MT and plantain 2,255, 814MT third.
In 1985, cassava led in per capita consumption of starchy foods with 146.3kg as compared to 43kg for yam.
This per capita consumption has increased over the years from 146.3kg in 1985 to 152.9kg in 2005 compared to yam which has decline from 43.8kg, an FAO report.
In Ghana, significant ongoing investment activity suggests that industrial demand for cassava will grow in the coming years.
A research conducted by the international organization, the Sustainable Trade Initiative (STI) shows that an estimated 66,000 MT of cassava are processed industrially today, mostly for production of packaged traditional foods.
By 2020, the total latent demand for cassava for industrial use is estimated to grow to 1.6 million MT per year, accounting for both domestic demand from Ghanaian industries and regional demand from other ECOWAS markets.
The largest opportunity for cassava industrialization in Ghana is ethanol for domestic consumption, followed by food-grade starch for export to regional markets and high-quality cassava flour (HQCF) for the domestic market.
STI predicts that by 2020, the realistic addressable demand for cassava from industry players is estimated to grow to 400,000 MT per year, while current supply is just 6% of that.
The domestic ethanol market is expected to be the main driver of growth, accounting for half of total demand.
Domestic and regional starch demands are expected to account for just over a third of demand, with the remainder (15%) for HQCF and other sub-sectors.
Meeting the addressable demand for industrial uses of cassava can have enormous economic and social impact, with an estimated $20 million worth of cassava being supplied annually for industrial use.
It is projected that Ghana will require approximately $200-300 million as investment in additional processing capacity, which would double incomes for an estimated 50,000 smallholder farmer suppliers by investing in improved yields and selling in bulk to large processors, even if selling at a lower price.
This shift in input utility will also lead to savings from wheat, starch, and ethanol imports worth $34 million annually.
Farmers in Ghana can more than double their incomes from $40 per ha to $92 per ha by investing in improved yields and selling in bulk to large processors, even if selling at a lower price.