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April 2012

Cassava as an income-earning crop for small farmers


Sub-Saharan Africa produces more than 50 percent of the world’s cassava (aka manioc, Tapioca, and Yucca), but mainly as a subsistence crop.  Consumed by about 500 million Africans every day, it is the second most important source of carbohydrate in Sub-Saharan Africa, after maize. The leaves can also be consumed as a green vegetable, which provides protein and vitamins A and B. As an economy advances, cassava is also used for animal feed and industrial applications.


Described as the “Rambo of food crops” cassava would become even more productive in hotter temperatures and could be the best bet for African farmers threatened by climate change.


Cassava is drought resistant, can be grown on marginal land where other cereals do not do well, and requires little inputs. For these reasons it is grown widely by African small and poor farmers as a subsistence crop. However, cassava’s potential as an income-earning crop has not been widely tapped.


Cassava presents enormous opportunities for trade between areas with food surplus and food deficit. Currently, a large shortfall of the regional food supply is filled by cereals bought in the international market. For cassava to become an income-earning crop at intra-regional market for small farmers in Africa, two main obstacles remain: post-harvest processing and regional trade barriers.

George Clooney: An Advocacy Masterclass?

Sina Odugbemi's picture

It is all too easy to be cynical about celebrities backing causes. You wonder: are they serious or is all this for show? Did the public relations people ask him or her to do it to sell more tickets or help recover from a scandal? And things have happened around celebrities championing all manner of causes that fuel the cynicism. A story in a recent issue of The New Yorker magazine covers the phenomenon very well: ‘Looking Good: The new boom in celebrity philanthropy’ by John Colapinto (March 26, 2012, page 56). In it you will find fascinating stories about what different celebrities have been up to and how things are turning out. This summing up attributed to Ken Berger of Charity Navigator, a watchdog group, says it all:

A vast treasure trove of development knowledge just opened up

Adam Wagstaff's picture

Today's launch of the World Bank's Open Knowledge Repository (OKR) and Open Access Policy might not seem a big deal. But it is.

The knowledge bank’s assets are huge, but until today were hard to access

The Bank is a huge producer of knowledge on development. This knowledge surfaces in formal publications of the Bank – the institution publishes books and flagship reports like the World Development Report. It also surfaces in publications of external publishers, including journal articles – up to now, these external publications haven't been seen by the Bank as part of its knowledge output despite the fact they dwarf the Bank's own publications in volume and in citations. The Bank's knowledge also surfaces in reports, and in informal "knowledge products" like briefing notes and other web content.

Is Bank Competition a Threat to Financial Stability?

Asli Demirgüç-Kunt's picture

The global financial crisis reignited the interest of policymakers and academics in assessing the impact of bank competition on stability and rethinking the role of the state in shaping competition policies. Competition in the financial sector has a long list of obvious benefits: greater efficiency in the production of financial services, higher quality financial products and more innovation. When financial systems become more open and contestable, generally this results in greater product differentiation, a lowering of the cost of financial intermediation and more access to financial services. But when we turn to the issue of financial stability, it is no longer so obvious whether competition is beneficial or not, with a continuing debate among academics and policymakers alike. Some believe that increasing financial innovation and competition in certain markets like sub-prime lending contributed to the recent financial turmoil. Others worry that as a result of the crisis and the actions of governments in support of the largest banks, concentration in banking increased, reducing the competitiveness of the sector and potentially contributing to future instability as a result of moral hazard problems associated with “too big to fail” institutions.

Welcome to the Jobs Knowledge Platform

Arup Banerji's picture

Even before the financial crisis, the world was facing a job crisis. Jobs will remain at the center of the policy debate in the near future for five main reasons:

  1. During the crisis, 30 to 40 million jobs were lost. Even if employment levels are improving, progress is not uniform across all countries. Plus, countries still face the need to create employment opportunities for those who have entered the labor force since the crisis began.
  2. Beyond the current economic crisis and the problem of unemployment a central development challenge is how to improve the quality of the millions of jobs that already exist. Labor income is the main mechanism through which people escape poverty, yet many workers and their families today remain poor.
  3. Across countries, a large share of workers are in informal wage employment lacking access to social security and labor regulations. Many more – 80 percent of workers in the case of Sub-Saharan Africa -- are self-employed in subsistence activities or working in small household enterprises, often without pay.
  4. Demographic patterns add urgency to the need to expand job opportunities. Young people, including those with higher education, still struggle to find jobs in many parts of the world. And as more of them enter the labor market, the situation could worsen, particularly in Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East.

Declining ODA, Resilient Remittances

C. Omar Kebbeh's picture

Numbers just published by the Organization for Economic cooperation and Development (OECD) show that major donors’ aid to developing countries, known as Official Development Assistance or ODA, fell by nearly 3% to 133.5 billion in 2011 compared to 2010, the first drop since 1997 when debt relief figures are not included (see charts below).  Bilateral aid to sub-Saharan Africa was USD 28.0 billion, representing a fall of -0.9% compared to 2010.

Beyond Hero Worship

Jill Richmond's picture

Julie Battilana of HBSSupporters of social entrepreneurship often cite examples of “heroes” who have successfully built organizations to solve social problems on a global scale. But social entrepreneurship also includes many efforts to fix targeted, local problems rather than working toward large-scale global change. An increasing number of social entrepreneurs are experimenting with ways to use commercially generated revenue to grow and maintain their social impact.

These findings are part of one of the most robust quantitative studies of social enterprise to date. Undertaken by Harvard Business School Associate Professor Julie Battilana and her colleague Matthew Lee, a doctoral student at Harvard Business School, they analyzed 6 years worth of applicant data from Echoing Green. The purpose of the study is to expand the field of vision beyond “heroic stories” that dominate the discussion on social entrepreneurship. In this interview, they share some initial findings from their research.

Prospects Daily: Japanese Yen strengthens as the country’s current account turns to surplus again

Global Macroeconomics Team's picture

Important developments today:

1. Japanese Yen strengthens as the country’s current account turns to surplus again

2. Japan’s current account returns to surplus in February