Mar 9, 2009

Cassava glut downs prices, farmers lose out

Thanh Nien Daily - Ho Chi Minh City,Vietnam March 9, 2009. With many farmers in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong rushing to cultivate cassava last year, a supply surplus has sent prices plummeting and left farmers with an unprofitable crop.(Picture: Sacks of cassava are weighed and loaded for transportation to the local market in Cu Jut District, Dak Nong Province.)

Dinh Van Dien of Dak Rong Commune in Cu Jut District said cassava was bought at VND3,000 (US$0.17) per kilogram last year but now it is priced half that.

He said he made no money from his two-hectare cassava field after paying nearly VND6 million ($343) in labor costs.

Many families in the commune, with cassava fields of 3-5 hectares, have literally been crying because of crop losses.

“It is so bitter,” Dien said. “Last year, farmers rushed to grow cassava after seeing the prices soar. We never imagined that cassava prices would plunge like this.”

Many disappointed farmers have yet to hire workers to cultivate their crops.

Pham Van Kieu, an agricultural products outlet in neighboring Nam Dong commune, said he refused to buy cassava from many farmers because supply was more than consumption this year.

Le Van Cong, head of Cu Jut District’s Agriculture and Rural Development Department, said cassava areas increased three times to 1,830 hectares last year although officials warned growers of producing a surplus.

Cong also said it was not just Cu Jut, but many other districts in Dak Nong Province that have seen a significant increase in cassava cultivation.

“Perhaps farmers do not need warnings this year. They will decrease it by themselves,” he said. “They have learnt the lesson.”

Reported by Tran Ngoc Quyen

ERA Flays Testing of ‘Super Cassava’

THISDAY - Apapa,Lagos,Nigeria
March 8, 2009

FCT. Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) and over 30 other civil society groups in Nigeria have condemned the alleged approval by the Federal Government for the Donald Danforth Plant Science Centre, United States, to conduct field-testing of a genetically modified cassava christened “Super Cassava” in Nigeria.

They described the alleged approval as trading away Nigeria's food future to modern colonialists hiding under the cover of agricultural biotechnology, and said the proposed test must be halted immediately.

ERA/FoEN’s position is premised on the recently reported approval of the National Biosafety Committee (NBC) for the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike to go ahead with plans to conduct “contained” field trials of genetically-modified cassava on the banks of the Qua Iboe River, Abia State.

Details of the approval was revealed at the annual meeting of the American Society for the Advancement of Science, held in Chicago, U.S.A on February 13, 2009, where it was announced that Nigeria’s NBC had given the Danforth Centre approval to carry out field trials for GM cassava in collaboration with NRCRI.

In its reaction to the development, ERA/FoEN warned that the back door approach of the biotech industry and its Nigerian allies to introduce GM crops in the country will not only endanger Nigerians but is also a “breach” of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety which Nigeria is signatory to, which seeks among others to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology.

"Nigeria does not need any super cassava. The genetic modification of cassava to produce Vitamin A is fraught with many dangers to the health of Nigerians who depend on cassava as a staple. Some years back the biotech industry engineered the so-called golden rice to be rich in Vitamin A, but one would need to eat 9 kilograms of that rice to have as much Vitamin A as one would have from eating just two small carrots! The golden rice was a golden hoax and the super cassava will turn out to be super fraud”, said ERA/FoEN

Executive Director, Nnimmo Bassey in a statement issued in Lagos.

Cassava - Google News