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Red cassava goes into extinction

Red cassava is said to be going into extinction in some parts of the country. In many communities, red cassava used to be a substitute…

Red cassava is said to be going into extinction in some parts of the country.

In many communities, red cassava used to be a substitute for yam in terms of consumption. It can be pounded or eaten cooked with red oil.

In Benue State, one of the leading growers, consumers of red cassava popularly known as ‘Dan Warri’ are worried about the extinction of the crop in the state.

A consumer, Ada Eche, noted that red cassava was a substitute to yam in terms of consumption, adding, however, that it is becoming difficult to find anywhere now.

“We can pound the red cassava or eat it cooked with red oil. Sometimes, it was difficult to differentiate between it and yam. I love the red cassava delicacy but now it’s nowhere to be found,” Eche said.

Similarly, Kole Michael has expressed worry at the disappearance of the red cassava either in the markets or at the farms.

He said red cassava was a delight to munch when it’s either fresh, cooked, pounded or roasted with stew, soup or other forms of sauces.

“I really miss cooked red cassava with palm oil,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Director of Agric Science in the Benue State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Thomas Unongo, has confirmed that red cassava, known as ‘Dan Warri’, has gone into extinction.

“I planted some strains last year but it disappeared in my field while maturing. They were uprooted from the farm, both stem and tubers stolen. The varieties are being phased out by farmers who are embracing newer varieties for sake of economic value,” he pointed out.

Unongo noted that the craving for more income by farmers led to the abandonment of red cassava farming for other high-yielding varieties.

He however expressed hope that more could be done to revert the trend.

A question of yield

The director maintained that “Extension officers are doing a lot to encourage the return of red cassava. The yield (red cassava) does not produce much so farmers go for the yield (other cassava varieties) which produce twice the former.”

Our reporter in Katsina reports the crop is fast becoming unpopular among farmers in the state, making it scarce commodity.

A well-known cassava farmer in Kwara State, Alhaji Yinusa Jimoh, said many farmers no longer farm that particular type of cassava because it does not yield big.

“Although it is just like yam; you can pound it, eat it cooked, make a nice cassava flour from it but because of the new high yielding varieties available now, farmers are abandoning it,’’ he said.

He said, however, that consumers kept asking for it because of its delicacy.

Reports from Kogi, Osun and Oyo states depicts the same scenario as many farmers now prefer the high yielding cassava varieties to the red one.

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