30. Cassava in shifting cultivation. - a system approach to agricultural technology development in Africa.-
Publ. of Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, Netherlands; ISBN 90-6832-013-0; 1986, 240 p; price 39.00 Dfl, Available: Publ. Departm., Royal Trop. Institute, Mauritskade 63, 1092 AD Amsterdam, Netherlands
Cassava is the most important staple food crop in Zaire, where both tubers and leaves are used, the former being the major source of energy and the latter a major source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Cassava plays an important role in the agricultural systems in Zaire.
Through a case study of cassava production in the Kwango-Kwilu region of central Zaire, this book provides a systems approach to agricultural technology development in Africa. In the region studied, cassava production has increased considerably over the last thirty years, keeping pace with or even surpassing population growth.
The author reviews the evolution of cassava production in the region, and its agronomic effects. Cassava, cultivated as a key component of a shifting cultivation system, allows great flexibility in cultural practices. The expansion of cassava onto marginal soils, the increased presence of cassava in crop rotations and associations, and the reliance on female labour explain much of the production growth. At the same time, however, cassava yields have declined and the shifting cultivation system is rapidly breaking down. Past and present research efforts on cassava are discussed with a view to determining strategies for agricultural technology development.
The relevance of this study lies in its detailed analysis of changes in shifting cultivation as well as in its method of analysis. It draws upon ecological system analysis and, to a lesser extent, on farming systems research, and presents a systems framework that allows the integration of technical and socio-economic aspects of crop production which has wide application.
There is certainly a need for greater research in areas such as postharvest handling and processing of cassava in order to find better ways of utilizing the crop at village and farm levels. This is an area that IITA will concentrate on in future as part of a strengthened commitment to cassava research in the humid tropics.
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Africa, Nigeria, humid zone, field trials, intercropping, yam, maize, stake densities, production costs, economic returns
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