As recently published by BBC News Africa, Andy Jarvis of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) has reported on the climate change hope of cassava: "Whilst other staples can suffer from heat and other problems of climate change, cassava thrives".

The report: 'Is Cassava the Answer to African Climate Change Adaptation' details the importance of cassava for food security as well as adaptation. Imperative to ensuring food security is the need to secure the increasing demand for industrial end use, and its potential to increase household income through access to markets for cassava value-added products. "This is really exciting work that CIAT has just published about the potential contribution of cassava to climate change adaptation and it adds evidence about the future importance of the crop to food security in Africa" says Professor Andrew Westby, Director of the Natural Resources Institute.

The Natural Resources Institute (NRI) are currently leading a large-scale project entitled C:AVA (Cassava: Adding Value for Africa), funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which focuses on developing value chains for high quality cassava flour (HQCF), and other cassava products, to improve the livelihoods of small-holder farmer households.

Through the research and development efforts of NRI, and their collaborative partners, it has been found that HQCF can be used as a partial substitute for wheat flour. It has the potential to save millions of dollars in foreign exchange even if only 5% is used in composite bread flour. Some larger-scale biscuit manufacturers have realized the potential of using local resources, and HQCF is now being used as a substitute ingredient for starch derived from maize or wheat in adhesives used in the plywood and cardboard packaging industries.

"The key to success is the management of quality control. A single standard is required so that the market for HQCF is not undermined by lower quality cassava flours that do not meet the requirements of the food industry and other end users." Says Dr Rory Hillocks, NRI Country coordinator for C:AVA in Ghana.

Virus diseases have been an impediment to increased cassava production but varieties are now available with good resistance to the cassava mosaic diseases and progress is being made with contributions from successful research projects at NRI and elsewhere, towards improved resistance to the other main virus disease, brown streak disease.

The institute is also involved in numerous other projects involving cassava, a new project is starting this year for example, entitled 'Gratitude' which will focus on making waste from cassava and yam processing profitable.