Cassava is a major crop in the farming systems of Ghana. It is a main source of carbohydrates to meet the dietary requirement needs and a regular source of income for most rural dwellers and contributes substantially (22 percent) to the Agricultural Gross Domestic Product (AGDP).
Despite the introduction of cassava to Ghana in the 16th century and its substantial contributions to the livelihood of the populace, the crop has remained in obscurity and neglect. Burgeoning interest in the crop in recent times results from the realization of the potential of cassava as a food security and emergence crop which could generate employment for the rural poor and foreign exchange for the country. Since 1990, the Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, has demonstrated its determination and commitment to promote cassava for the alleviation of poverty particularly in rural households and communities.
Apart from hosting the Ninth Symposium of the International Society for Tropical Root Crops (ISTRC) in Accra in 1991 and national workshops held on the crop in 1992 and 1993, the Government ensured that modest support was always allocated for the promotion of the production, processing and marketing of cassava under various relevant projects and programmes being implemented under the Medium-Term Agricultural Programme (MTADP). A National Cassava Working Group and a Cassava Task Force were inaugurated in 1995/96. These were followed by the participation of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), in conjunction with the private sector, in the recent Industry and Technology Fair dubbed “INDUTECH 97” held in Accra in March/April 1997 with the exhibition on cassava being adjudged the best stand at the fair. Related to these official initiatives, there has been research and development focus on cassava from several NGOs and bilateral partners in Ghana.
IFAD’s initiative regarding a Global Cassava Development Strategy offers a unique opportunity for Ghana to develop the production, processing and marketing of cassava as a food security crop and a commercial crop for rural employment generation for the improvement of income for resource poor farmers and the national economy.