But cassava can be used beyond the kitchen. Scraps of cassava feed farm animals in Nigeria, while Thailand produces chips and feed from whole cassava roots for animals. In industrial settings, cassava can be used to make starch, sweeteners and medical glucose for diabetics.
Those other uses for cassava give scientists at the institute hope that their improved cassava plants will be able to help people both feed themselves and make a profit in Nigeria where most earn less than $2 a day. However, they say that the feeding those living in the country must remain the first priority.
‘‘Because it’s eaten in such large quantities, any big change that we can bring about in the nutritional quality is a big’’ gain, Asiedu said. ‘‘You need to diversify your diet — have meat and fish and all — but we know these are expensive. So for the average person, any mineral or nutritional element we can put in cassava is big improvement.’’
The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture: www.iita.org
Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP .