A cassava-processing workshop held in Bangkok from 2 – 4 December 2015 brought together researchers, and representatives of the private sector in Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia, who presented the current situation of cassava production and processing in their countries.

Discussions focused on the perceived needs and priorities for technological improvements for cassava processing, as well as the socio-economic challenges and opportunities for the cassava value chain in South-East Asia. A visit to a cassava starch factory near Bangkok fostered further discussions and exchanges.

Marcelo Precoppe and Arnaud Chapuis, post-doctoral fellows with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and CIRAD, presented the findings of their research on flash drying to improve the energy efficiency of cassava flour and starch production, as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) complementary funding project “Driving livelihood improvements through demand-oriented interventions for competitive production and processing of RTBs”.

In particular, they developed design guidelines for efficient flash dryers, which can help reduce production costs and make small-scale processing of cassava viable in countries with an emerging cassava industry.

The cassava industry is set to expand in South-East Asia, and also in Africa in the coming years, to meet increasing demand for cassava-based products such as flour, starch or chips, in relation to economic development and growing urban populations. Research to develop more efficient cassava processing equipment is therefore crucial to ensure a sustainable development of the industry.

The workshop led to user-generated ideas for prospective areas of research and collaboration, and brought together potential public and private sector partners for future implementation.

The workshop was organized by NSTDA-BIOTEC (Thailand) in collaboration with Kasetsart University and CIRAD, with financial support from RTB, SEA-EU-NET, and the Embassy of France in Thailand.

Technological improvements in cassava processing and production will also be featured at the upcoming World Congress on Root and Tuber Crops from 18 – 22 January 2016 in Nanning, China.