Industrialization of cassava sector in Ghana: progress and the role of developing high starch cassava varieties
In Ghana, cassava is a marginalized crop in food policies due to low research attention given it. However, high starch in cassava root is an important characteristic that makes the crop a potential industrial cash crop. In light of this, the Government of Ghana in 2001 introduced the Presidential Special Initiative (PSI) on Cassava, which aimed at industrializing the cassava sector for job creation and livelihood improvement through starch extraction. One of the import industrial products from cassava starch is ethanol. Ethanol is reported as the largest opportunity for cassava industrialization in Ghana followed by food-grade starch. However, the local ethanol consuming industry, Kasapreko, operates by importing over 25 million litres of ethanol every year due to inadequate supply of ethanol from local starch factories. This situation exists because of lack of cassava varieties that can yield more starch (75% or more) per total dry weight to feed the starch factories for sustainable production. Therefore, this review explores the relevance of developing high starch yielding cassava to the industrialization of the cassava sector in Ghana and lessons to learn from the success story of Thailand, the country with the world’s most industrialized cassava sector.