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The Cassava Journey In Uganda

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Cassava (manihot esculenta) is one of East Africa’s leading staple foods.

In Uganda, it ranks second among the major food crops and is regarded as one of the cheapest foods. The crop was introduced to Uganda through present-day Tanzania by Arab traders between 1862 and 1875.

Its cultivation greatly increased between 1931 and 1933 and over the years became a cheap source of food. Its ­exibility in the farming and food systems, ability to do well in marginal soils and apparent resistance to pests and diseases, particularly locusts encouraged its rapid spread and adoption.

Between 1980-1990, the area planted with cassava in the country doubled, making cassava the most widely-grown crop in Uganda.

Cassava is a staple food in cassava-growing areas and its flour can be enriched with sorghum, finger millet and groundnuts.

It is also an important cash crop that is on high demand, especially in urban areas.

However, yields have been reducing as a result of continued use of low-potential local varieties that are adversely affected by mosaic, cassava green mite, bacterial blight and declining soil fertility. A total of 3.5 million metric tonnes of the crop were produced from 450,000 hectares of land grown until 1990 when mosaic epidemic devastated the crop.

However, scientists have since come up with new varieties that are resistant to the disease. The tuberous plant is vegetatively propagated.

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