Cassava in beer? Yes, that’s happening, thanks to an innovative new production chain facilitated between a subsidiary of Heineken, and a Nigerian cassava processor.
Nigeria is the world’s top producer of cassava, a starchy, tuberous root. Cassava is a major staple food in the developing world, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people. It is also a drought-tolerant crop, and is capable of growing on marginal soils.
Cassava has a short shelf life (a couple of days), but companies have the technology to make a dry starch from raw cassava. The starch can be used to make a variety of products. Including, now, beer. The challenge: many cassava farmers don’t live close enough to a processing center to capitalize on the opportunity.
That may change. And in the process, cassava production may move towards becoming a cash crop for small farmers, rather than merely a subsistence crop.