Cassava Commercialization in Mozambique

December 1, 2011 - <>, <>, Venâncio Alexandre Salegua, Constantino Cuambe, João Mudema, and Alda Tomo

IDWP 120. Cynthia Donovan, Steven Haggblade, Venâncio Alexandre Salegua, Constantino Cuambe, João Mudema, and Alda Tomo. 2011. Cassava Commercialization in Mozambique

Cassava supplies roughly 30% of all calories consumed in Mozambique, making it the
country’s most important food security crop. Over the past several decades, growing
urbanization and shifting demand patterns have led to growing opportunities for cassava
processing and commercialization. This paper examines the commercial dynamics in
Mozambique’s cassava value chain as well as the food security implications of growing
cassava commercialization.

The study is based on detailed farm-household survey data as well as qualitative field
interviews with value chain participants in northern and southern Mozambique.

In northern Mozambique, cassava commercialization centers on trade in dried flour, while in
the south a prepared cassava-based convenience food called rale accounts for the bulk of
marketed cassava. Given cassava’s high productivity per unit of land and labor, cassava
prices in Mozambique’s northern cassava belt average about 55% of the cost of wheat and
60% of the cost of maize. This cost advantage underpins considerable commercial
opportunities for cassava-based foods, feeds, and starches. As a result, an array of private
firms is currently experimenting with cassava-based biofuels, composite flour baked goods,
cassava beer, and packaged prepared foods using cassava roots and leaves.

Because cassava is a perennial crop, farm households can store cassava roots in the ground
for multiple years, adjusting harvests as required to ensure household food security during
times of cereal shortfalls. Marketed volumes of cassava also increase during drought years,
when maize harvests falter, enabling urban households to substitute cassava for maize during
lean years. Because cassava commercialization in Mozambique remains in its formative
stages, strategic investment in a set of key public goods (breeding, training in food sciences
and food safety, and research on in-ground cassava storage) can help to shape this transition
in ways that benefit both commercial interests and the food security of vulnerable


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