Utilization of Cassava Leaves as a Vegetable in Rwanda
AbstractCassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) leaves is an important vegetable in Rwanda. The objectives of this study were to determine cassava species from which leaves are harvested as vegetable and identify leaf preparation methods, consumption rate, price variation, storability and perception of post-harvest losses. A pre-tested structured questionnaire with closed and open-ended questions was administered to stratified groups of cassava leaves producers and consumers in four purposively selected sectors of Ruhango District and retailers in the main markets of Ruhango and Kigali city. In total, 171 respondents were interviewed from 11 to 26 August 2011. Cassava leaves are highly consumed in Ruhango District as 96.0 % of families harvested leaves for food. On average, 17.5 % of farmers sell cassava leaves that are retailed in markets of towns and cities including Kigali City. Sweet (Manihot dulcis), bitter (Manihot utilissima) and wild (Manihot glaziovii) are the cassava species from which leaves are consumed as vegetable, but the leaves of wild cassava are preferred by 66.0 % of consumers. Prices of cassava leaves varied significantly (p=0.0182) according to season with higher prices in the dry than rainy season. Prices of leaves at farm gate and retail levels were highly different (p= 0.0016), averaging 32 and 65 Frw by bunch in the rainy season, respectively. Despite the high consumption and trade of cassava leaves, post-harvest losses were high, especially in the rainy season. Cassava leaves were mainly cooked fresh, but 15.4 % of households processed leaves by sun drying. The storage period was extended to two months by sun-drying. In each case and, prior to cooking, cassava leaves were pounded. Cassava leaves are considered as a favourite and nutritive vegetable and technologies to improve storability, value and trade are needed. Assessment of effects of processing on nutritional quality and safety is also important.
Keywords: cassava species, leaves, vegetable, preparation methods, Rwanda
Rwanda Journal, Volume 24 Series E 2011