Forget the whitish solid starch that keeps hunger away from you, it is a billion-dollar business, and Africa needs to take it more seriously.

That is the message from African Development Bank, AfDB to African countries.

The AfDB said African countries can redirect about $1.2 billion into their economies by transforming cassava production.

It is because of this potential that the global lender said it had concluded plans to boost production of cassava and eight other commodities on the continent.

The commodities include cassava, rice, maize, sorghum/millet, wheat, livestock, aquaculture, high iron beans and orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.

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According to a statement from the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, the bank said it would invest $120 million in the next two to three years to transform and boost productivity of the crops.

“Transforming cassava on the African continent would help African nations to cut imports and redirect about $1.2 billion into African domestic economies,” the Director for Agriculture at AfDB, Dr. Martin Fregene, said at the fourth international conference on cassava.

The conference was organised by the Global Cassava Partnerships for the 21st Century, in Cotonou, Republic of Benin.

Fregene said cassava was a strategic crop for Africa’s food security and wealth creation for youth and women, adding, “Another dimension to the importance of cassava is in nutrition, where cassava can enhance the nutrition of children directly or as feed for poultry and other livestock.”

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