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Promoting Cassava as an Industrial Crop in Ghana: Effects on Soil Fertility and Farming System Sustainability

DOI: 10.1155/2012/940954

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Abstract:

Cassava is an important starchy staple crop in Ghana with per capita consumption of 152.9?kg/year. Besides being a staple food crop, cassava can be used as raw material for the production of industrial starch and ethanol. The potential of cassava as an industrial commercial crop has not been exploited to a large extent because of perceptions that cassava depletes soils. Recent finding from field studies in the forest/savannah transitional agroecological zone of Ghana indicates that when integrated in the cropping system as a form of rotation, cassava contributes significantly to maintenance of soil fertility, and thus large scale production of cassava for industrial use can contribute to poverty reduction in an environmentally responsive way. This paper discusses the role of cassava cultivation in soil fertility management and its implication for farming system sustainability and industrialization. 1. Introduction Cassava is an important starchy staple crop in Ghana with per capita consumption of 152.9?kg/year [1]. Besides being a staple food crop, cassava can be used as raw material for the production of industrial starch and ethanol. In Ghana, cassava is cultivated as a monocrop or intercropped with other food crops, either as the dominant or subsidiary crop. In terms of quantity produced, cassava is the most important root crop in Ghana followed by yams and cocoyams, but cassava ranks second to maize in terms of area planted. The production of cassava in Ghana ranged from 10,217,929?MT to 12,260,330 MT in the period 2007–2009 covering an area of 800,531?ha to 885,800?ha [1]. Ghana currently produces about 12,260,000?MT of cassava annually. Out of this, 8,561,700?MT is available for human consumption while national consumption is estimated at only 3,672,700?MT resulting in surplus of about 4,889,000?MT which can be exploited for the production of industrial starch or ethanol. Despite its importance, the potential of cassava as an industrial crop has not been exploited to any appreciable extent in Ghana, with the perception that cassava depletes soils [2, 3]. However, recent studies in the forest/savannah transitional agroecological zone as well as the semideciduous forest zone of Ghana have demonstrated that, when integrated in the cropping system as a form of rotation, cassava has the potential of maintaining soil fertility. In most parts of Africa, cassava is planted just before the land is left to fallow [4, 5]. In the forest/savannah transitional agroecological zone of Ghana, farmers often rotate maize with cowpea and when they observe decline in

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