Nov 18, 2008

Cambodia inaugurates 1st ethanol factory to produce bio-fuel 17 November 2008

PONGNEA LEU, Cambodia, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia opened its first ethanol factory to generate bio-fuel from cassava flour here on Monday. "This is the first ethanol factory in Cambodia and it will become the market place of cassava product for local farmers," Prime Minister Hun Sen said at the opening ceremony of the pioneer venture invested by the MH Bio-energy Group of South Korea.

It will directly provide 192 job opportunities for local workers and encourage farmers to plant more cassava, he said, adding that the factory itself has made investment to grow cassava on 8,000 hectares of land in Kampong Speu province.

The project, with 40 million U.S. dollars of investment, has already opened two branches in Kampong Cham and Battambang provinces to purchase cassava from local farmers, he added.

Industry, Mines and Energy Minister Suy Sem said at the ceremony that the factory now has a designed capacity of 36,000 tons of ethanol fuel for export per year, especially to the European market. "The factory has a plan to double its export volume during the next few years. It now needs about 100,000 tons of dry cassava flour each year," he said, adding that its ethanol fuel can replace gasoline for vehicles.

Sar Peov, head of the administration unit of the factory, told Xinhua that a ton of ethanol fuel currently sells at about 700 U.S. dollars on the international market.

"We focus on foreign market because Cambodia has a small market for ethanol products and the vehicles here use gasoline and diesel," he said. We will focus on the Cambodian market later, he added. Cassava is one of the most important economic crops in rural Cambodia.

According to the official figures, around 30,000 hectares of land were planted with cassava in 2005 in the kingdom, with a turnout of around 536,000 tons of flour.

Editor: Deng Shasha

News Africa News FAO hails cassava's comeback in Great Lakes region

Nairobi, Kenya - The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Friday hailed the comeback of healthy cassava, one of Africa's principal foodstuffs, to the menu of people in the Great Lakes Region.The cassava "returns " to the region's menu after years of crop losses caused by a devastating virus.

"Having cassava back on the table is of major importance, especially to the region's most vulnerable, who have been hit hard by this year's global food crisis," said Eric Kueneman, chief of FAO's Crop and Grassland Service headquartered in R o me, Italy.

By the last planting season, virus-free cassava planting material had been distributed to some 330,000 smallholders in countries struck by the virus - Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, and the improved crop now be n efits some 1.65 million people, the FAO said in a statement.

Kueneman added that boosting the production of local crops like cassava is a pillar of FAO's response to the current food crisis, which threw an additional 75 million people into poverty in 2007 alone.

Each person in Africa eats around 80 kg of cassava per year. Cassava roots can be harvested whenever needed, or left in the ground when farmers are driven from their land, thus making a crucial difference in circumstances of instability, as w hat the Democratic Republic of Congo is now going through.

Kueneman also hailed the achievement as a milestone in the FAO's partnership with the European Union, as the FAO has been co-operating with the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO) in making the Great Lakes Region self-su f ficient in cassava production again.

Nairobi - 14/11/2008

CONGO: Disease devastates cassava crop, threatens widespread hunger - New York, NY,USA 18 Nov. 2008., 13 November 2008 (IRIN) - Cassava is the staple food for most people in the Republic of Congo, but this main source of nourishment is being threatened by a disease that has spread to most areas of the country. (Cassava, the staple food in the Republic of Congo, is being threatened by a a virus, known as cassava mosaic disease (CMD)Photo: Jessie Wright/IRIN)

"We've been having problems for more than two years and it's getting worse with the mosaic destroying our crops," said Rose Ambeto, who has several cassava fields.

The virus, known as cassava mosaic disease (CMD), attacks the leaves of the plant and limits the growth of its roots. It is spread by insects or by diseased cassava being transplanted to new areas.

"Our harvests are getting worse and worse. That's why bags of fufu and roots are so expensive in the markets," she said.

Fufu is eaten across Africa and is made by boiling starchy roots like cassava, also known as manioc, in water and then pounding them until they reach a porridge-like consistency.

Veronique Okaka, who grows cassava in Ouesso in Congo's Sangha department, also complained of hard times due to the cassava mosaic.

"Before, we had enough to feed our children and to make some money for other things. But lately, because of this disease, we sometimes get fufu from Cameroon," she said.

The price of a bag of fufu has soared from 15,000 CFA (US$28.50) to 35,000 CFA ($67) in recent months in Congolese markets, partly because of the problems faced by growers and traders of cassava.

Specialists in Congo's agricultural ministry say the disease might lead to a drop of between 60 and 90 percent in harvests and could throw entire communities into a critical food situation.

CMD has been spreading throughout central Africa and arrived in the Republic of Congo in the mid-1990s.

Fighting back

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been at the forefront in the battle against the disease. The only known way to fight it is to develop varieties that are resistant to the virus and distribute them to farmers.

In Pool, one of Congo's worst-hit departments, the ICRC has been growing these resistant varieties. Over a two-month period last year, it took cuttings from these plants and distributed them to groups of cassava growers in the area.

The ICRC has handed out 330,000 cuttings to about 100 different groups, benefiting about 1,500 families. These groups received training in how to stop the spread of CMD, and were also given ploughing equipment.

In October, the ICRC joined the Congolese Red Cross and the agriculture ministry to provide training in Kinkala in the Pool Department on ways of fighting the disease.

The departments of Pool and Plateaux, also badly hit by the epidemic, recently received more than 330,000 cuttings of six different varieties of cassava developed in 2004 by the International Institute of Agricultural Technologies (IITA) in Kinshasa, in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Another 175,000 cuttings, taken from four new resistant strains, are being distributed in four other departments.

Over 1.5 million in Africa benefit from return of cassava, UN reports

Harvesting healthy cassava

UN News Centre 13 November 2008 –Following years of massive crop losses caused by a devastating virus, the tropical root crop cassava – one of Africa’s principal foodstuffs – has made a comeback and is benefiting some 1.65 million people throughout the Great Lakes region, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today.

“Having cassava back on the table is of major importance, especially to the region’s most vulnerable, who have been hit hard by this year’s global food crisis,” said Eric Kueneman, Chief of the FAO Crop and Grassland Service.

In response to the epidemic, FAO partnered with the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), working to distribute virus-free cassava planting material to over 300,000 small farmers in the countries – Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Uganda – struck by the virus.

With each person in Africa consuming around 80 kilograms of cassava per year, Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) triggered a crisis which destroyed harvests throughout the region.

In Uganda, the virus has decimated 150,000 hectares of cassava since the early 1990s, with resulting food shortages leading to localized famines in 1993 and 1997.

“It’s sweet, not bitter,” said Ernest Nduwimana, a young farmer who lost his father during Burundi’s brutal civil war, who lives in northern Cibitoke province, the epicentre of the epidemic.

Last year, the area’s fields were barren, but with the crop being good this year, there is enough to feed his family until next year’s harvest, he said.

FAO’s Mr. Kueneman stressed that increasing the production of local crops such as cassava is a pillar of the agency’s response to the current food crisis, which plunged an additional 75 million people into poverty last year alone.

High prices of food and fertilizer are just some of the problems the Great Lakes region faces, as recent outbreaks of violence in eastern DRC demonstrate further instability.

Amid such circumstances, FAO suggests cassava can make a crucial difference, since the crop’s roots can be harvested whenever there is a need or left in the ground when farmers are driven from their land given that thieves find them difficult to dig out from the ground when unattended.

Fighting the Disease began with the development of a series of disease-free cassava varieties by an FAO research partner in Nigeria.

At the same time, the agency also kicked off a campaign to help individual Great Lakes nation, with the support of ECHO, which has contributed over €3 to date, and other donors.

Cassava - Google News