Experts highlight potential of cassava as biofuel crop

Experts participating in the International Conference on Tropical Roots and Tubers organized by the Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (CTCRI) and the Indian Society for Root Crops (ISRC) have highlighted the evolving potential of cassava as feedstock for the production of bioethanol as fuel.

What is Cassava?

CavassaCassava is a crop cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy, tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. It is the third-largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics, after rice and maize. Cassava is a major staple food in the developing world, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people. It is one of the most drought-tolerant crops, capable of growing on marginal soils. Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava.

How “Cassava” can be used as a bio-fuel?

Cassava has a high energy content, low maintenance and ability to grow under a wide range of climatic conditions, cassava. All these qualities render it a potential for production of bio-ethanol.  The technology for cassava alcohol, patented by the CTCRI in the 1980s, requires refinement for commercial scale production.
Bioethanol based on the lignocellulosic residue of cassava and sweet potato could be combined with starch-based options to make biofuel production cost effective. The high productivity of cassava crop in India would make production of bioethanol cost- competitive. The step to bring comparatively less fertile land in the semi-arid areas of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and high rainfall regions in the north-eastern region under cassava cultivation would ensure supply of raw material for ethanol production.