Nigeria, for example, is the world’s sixth-largest wheat importer, with a significant portion coming from Ukraine and Russia. Like many African countries, Nigeria is bracing for the impact of surging wheat prices.
The African Development Bank has ear-marked US $1 billion to boost wheat production across Africa. But it would be wise to spend a significant portion of this money on the continent’s most reliable crop, cassava. Nigeria is the world’s largest cassava producer. While it is one of the most world’s most sustainable food crops, cassava also has been one of the most neglected.
Cassava can make an important contribution towards shock-proofing global food systems. Especially in sub-Saharan Africa where it is already the fourth most important source of daily calories. Cassava can produce a good harvest in hot, dry conditions that kill off other crops. That makes it ideal for adapting to stressful growing conditions caused by the climate emergency, such as the series of droughts now impoverishing millions of agriculture-dependent people in east Africa.
Outside Africa, many people only encounter cassava hidden in a dessert – it is the main ingredient in tapioca pudding – or in gluten-free products.