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The Cassava Plant Essay

2118 words - 9 pages

Cassava (Manihot esculentum) is the only cultivated only food crop species in its genus (Fauquet 1990). It has many names including mogo (Africa), manioc, yucca, and tapioca (wikipedia). Cassava is a woody perennial shrub that is never grown, as a crop, from further than 30°N and 30° S of the equator (Cock 1985). The crop is much more limited in range by rainfall rather than temperature. The cassava plant, under cultivation, can grow to 5 to 12 feet, but in abandoned fields could grow up to 18 feet (Jones 1959). The leaves are large and palmate, growing between 3 to 11 lobes, varying on the region of attachment (Nartey 1978). They grow only toward the end of the branches; locations of ...view middle of the document...

The leaves can be consumed and provide a good supplementary protein source and vitamin A and C and other minerals (Lancaster 1983).
The toxicity of cassava is produced by the presence of cyanogenic glycoside linamarin, together with much smaller amounts of closely related lotaustralin (Thampan 1979). The substances hydrolyze under the influence of endogenous enzyme linamarase to free hydrogen cyanide (HCN) (Cock 1985). The level of toxicity varies greatly between taxa, so “sweet” and “bitter” varieties aren’t always distinguishable. The environmental condition behind the cultivation process has major contribution to determining the level of toxicity (Cock 1985). A wide variety of food processes have been developed to manage the cyanide content. In Ghana, kokonte is prepared by peeling the root, drying the root, and then milling the root (Nartey 1978). Chingkwangue is an African dish in which the root is soaked for several day, peeled, and the gounded up to be wrapped in banana leaves (Cock 1985).
In between 1979 and 1981, the total world production of cassava was 120 million tons annually (El- Sharkway 1993). In 1981, largest producer of cassava was Brazil with 24.47 million tons, second was Thailand with 14.54 million tons, and third was Indonesia with 13.67 million tons (Cock 1985). Almost all the gains have been due to expansion in planted area; yields have changed little (Nartey 1978). The cassava is grown primarily for food consumption, but some of other uses include animal feed and starch (Cock 1985). Starch is used as a lubricant in textile, preparation of certain foods, and in papermaking and the cardboard industry (Fauquet 1990).

Linguistic Evidence
Cassava has widely been accepted to have origin in the Eastern Peru and West central Brazil.
Figure Brown and his colleagues, to determine when and where manioc became important to several prehistoric Native American groups, performed Paleobiolinguistic (Brown 2013). Several major proto-languages were complied for two major regions in Central America and South America. The manioc–term was examined for each proto-language and dates were determined with through computational approach on the subject similarities of the languages. The geographic locations for the proto-languages was determined through and algorithm. Brown and his colleagues concluded that manioc was distributed through the New World from its Southwestern Amazon origin (Brown 2013).

Botanical Evidence
Cassava has widely been considered to be the least understood of all the major tropical crops (Allem 1994). 1n 1982, a growth of wild Manihot was observed in the Brazilian state of Goiás, which closely resembled M. esculenta in morphology and led to the conclusion that cassava grew in the wild (Hillocks 2002). Other authors argued the finding suggesting that the wild cassava was from an escaped cultigen (Heiser 1990, Bretting 1990). In 1999, Allem concluded in his paper that there was five common Brazilian species of...

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