Cassava is a perennial woody shrub with an edible root, which grows in tropical and subtropical areas of the world.
It is also called yuca, manioc, and mandioca. Cassava has the ability to grow on marginal lands where cereals and other crops do not grow well; it can tolerate drought and can grow in low-nutrient soils. Because cassava roots can be stored in the ground for up to 24 months, and some varieties for up to 36 months, harvest may be delayed until market, processing, or other conditions are favorable.
In Africa, cassava provides a basic daily source of dietary energy. Roots are processed into a wide variety of granules, pastes, flours, etc., or consumed freshly boiled or raw. In most of the cassava-growing countries in Africa the leaves are also consumed as a green vegetable, which provides protein and vitamins A and B.
In Southeast Asia and Latin America, cassava has taken on an economic role. Cassava starch is used as a binding agent, in the production of paper and textiles, and as monosodium glutamate, an important flavoring agent in Asian cooking. In Africa, cassava is beginning to be used in partial substitution for wheat flour.