The four main presentations are summarized as follows:
- The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) currently has an active cassava research programme. Mr Black of CARDI underscored that cassava farmers in Jamaica are competing with farmers across the globe, and there is need to develop cooperatives to utilise modern high technology systems-based approaches.
- Jamaica could produce 63,700 tonnes of fresh cassava annually, on twenty large farms (totaling 4862 ha), and utilising mechanised/semi-continuous technology for production and processing. Unser such a scenario, Jamaica could substitute wheat with cassava flour at the same price point according to Dr Ian Thompson, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.
- Red Stripe, the leading manufacturer of beer, is seeking to use 40% locally-sourced raw materials (cassava) by 2016. Mr Healey, Operations Manager at Red Stripe; indicated that in an integrated production system, the company is prepared to pay in the region of US $35/tonne for cassava and that price point could be accomplished with yields of 60 tonnes per hectare. He expressed concern regarding the current level of toxicity and noted that, ideally, a cyanide-free variety of cassava would be needed by Red Stripe.
- A cultural challenge persists in increasing cassava consumption and this must be recognised and addressed in order to have a successful cassava industry that responds to consumer demands. Dr Deslandes, UWI and consultant to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, highlighted that any future attempts must include significant focus on R&D.
The main areas identified for action, moving forward are: (i) the development and execution of a government-supported policy which supports cassava as a recommended starch/staple food in Jamaica’s food and nutrition security programme; (ii) the development of database(s) for: varieties suitable for processing, to support the value-added thrust; the preferred/recommended cassava planting areas in Jamaica; and the best production practices, to obtain the highest yields; (iii) research and development programme for new varieties with low cyanide content, yield optimisation and value-added products; (iv) the creation of an accessible database showing options for value-added cassava products for local and export markets; (v) the organisation of a functional cooperative of cassava farmers; (vi) the creation of an Association of Cassava Processors; (vii) the development of a cost-effective communication and marketing programme to support the cultural change towards greater local consumption of cassava; and (viii) access to funding.
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