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Where Does Cassava Originate? The Story of Sustainable Development of Cassava in Vietnam

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

In this engaging article, we explore the captivating story of cassava, a starchy root with a rich history and a thriving presence in Vietnam. Today, it plays a pivotal role in Vietnam's agriculture and economy, thriving in its tropical climate and contributing significantly to exports. Let's discover how cassava is processed into various products, its economic significance, and the challenges it faces in this dynamic and versatile crop's journey from South America to Vietnam with Agroviet right now.


Where Does Cassava Originate?  The Story of Sustainable Development of Cassava in Vietnam
Where Does Cassava Originate? The Story of Sustainable Development of Cassava in Vietnam

Cassava, also known as yam or manioc, is a common staple crop in rural and mountainous regions of our country. It originates from South America and was first introduced to Africa, near the Sahara, by Portuguese traders in the 17th century. It was later brought to Vietnam around the mid-18th century. However, there is currently no definitive documentation regarding the exact location and year of its initial cultivation. Today, cassava is grown in over 100 countries in tropical and near-tropical regions, serving as a food source for more than 500 million people and providing economic income for many households.


Cassava in The Journey to Vietnam.
Cassava in The Journey to Vietnam.

Vietnam currently has 528,000 hectares of cassava cultivation. Across the country, there are 27 provinces with cassava starch processing plants, totaling approximately 120 industrial-scale cassava starch processing factories with a combined designed capacity of 11.3 million tons of fresh cassava roots per year.


Understanding the Growth and Development Stages of Cassava.


Cassava, often referred to as the "bread of the tropics" is not just a staple crop; it's a lifeline for millions. To understand its cultivation, one must begin with the basics of this remarkable plant. Cassava is a woody shrub characterized by palmate leaves and a tuberous root, which is rich in carbohydrates. There are two main types of cassava: bitter and sweet, with the former requiring careful processing due to its cyanogenic glycosides.

Understanding the Growth and Development Stages of Cassava.
Understanding the Growth and Development Stages of Cassava.

Planting cassava is a crucial step in its growth cycle. It is propagated through stem cuttings, and selecting healthy, disease-free cuttings is essential. Cassava thrives in well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH. Proper soil preparation ensures good root development. Stem cuttings are planted at an angle, a few centimeters deep, allowing enough space for growth.


As cassava matures, it goes through vegetative growth, characterized by the formation of a canopy of large leaves, which are crucial for photosynthesis. The plant also starts branching, creating more foliage. Root development begins around 6-8 months after planting when tuber initiation occurs. Small tubers start forming and continue to grow until they reach their full size. Maturation and harvesting are the final stages in the cassava plant's life cycle. While cassava plants may produce flowers and seeds, the primary focus is on the development of the tubers. Harvesting typically occurs 8-24 months after planting, depending on the variety and intended use. Careful digging is necessary to avoid damaging the tubers.


Cassava's resilience and versatility make it a valuable crop for both subsistence and commercial farming, particularly in regions where food security is a concern. Its journey from planting to harvest reflects the intersection of agricultural expertise and human sustenance. Cassava's importance goes beyond just its role as a food source. It serves as a symbol of resilience and adaptability in the face of challenging environmental conditions.



Currently, cassava and cassava-derived products are among the 13 major agricultural products of Vietnam. Vietnam is a significant exporter of cassava and its derivatives, ranking third in the world after Thailand and Cambodia in terms of export volume and second globally in export revenue. More than 90% of cassava exports from Vietnam are destined for the Chinese market, with the remaining portion going to markets such as South Korea and Japan. However, due to the high logistic costs in Vietnam, the country's cassava exports face tough competition in the international market, particularly from countries like Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos.


According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade's General Department of Customs, in February 2023, Vietnam exported over 467,998 tons of cassava and cassava-derived products, earning $176.1 million. This represented a 98.2% increase in volume and a 90% increase in value compared to January 2023. Compared to the same period in 2022, both the volume and value of cassava exports increased by 88.8% and 74.2%, respectively.


Current Status and Sustainable Development Direction of Cassava in Vietnam
Current Status and Sustainable Development Direction of Cassava in Vietnam

Despite being a billion-dollar export industry, the cassava sector still faces several challenges that impact its sustainable development. The linkages between production and processing businesses remain weak, and the development of cooperatives in the cassava sector is limited. The establishment of processing plants has not been adequately connected with raw material development. Cassava processing plants and cassava product manufacturers need to innovate their processing technologies to diversify cassava products. Additionally, there is a need to expand the raw material areas and address waste management issues in cassava processing to ensure environmental safety.


While the cassava industry is a significant contributor to Vietnam's export earnings, there are ongoing challenges that need to be addressed to ensure its sustainable growth. This includes improving coordination between production and processing, promoting cooperative development, expanding raw material sources, and adopting environmentally friendly processing technologies.



Harvesting the Potential of Vietnamese Cassava Role in Processing and Usage
Harvesting the Potential of Vietnamese Cassava Role in Processing and Usage

One of the most important products derived from cassava is cassava starch. Cassava starch finds wide-ranging applications in various industries, including the textile, paper, adhesive, pharmaceutical, and food industries. With the trend of global economic integration and efforts to negotiate entry into the WTO, technological improvement, diversification, and product quality enhancement have become critical requirements for all businesses to remain competitive.


Cassava has many uses in industrial processing, animal feed, and food. Tapioca roots are used for fresh consumption, animal feed, and the production of dried cassava chips, mashed tapioca flour, tapioca starch, modified tapioca starch, and various tapioca-derived products such as monosodium glutamate, alcohol, maltodextrin, ect


Cassava stems are utilized for seed production, mushroom cultivation, as a source of firewood, and as raw materials for the cellulose industry. Sweet cassava leaves, rich in protein, are highly nutritious and are used to feed fish and silkworms. Bitter cassava leaves can be fermented or dried to produce cassava leaf powder, which is used as animal feed for pigs, chickens, buffaloes, cows, goats, and more.

Cassava holds a significant and multifaceted role in Vietnam's agricultural and economic landscape. It is a versatile crop that not only contributes to food security but also plays a pivotal role in various industries, including industrial processing, animal feed, and food production. The export of cassava and its products has placed Vietnam prominently on the global stage, with a strong presence in markets like China, South Korea, and Japan.In essence, cassava in Vietnam represents not only a vital agricultural commodity but also a source of economic growth and innovation. With strategic planning and sustainable practices, Vietnam can harness the full potential of cassava and continue to thrive in this dynamic agricultural landscape.



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