Cassava foliage:cheap alternative to carabao feeds
By:Rita T. dela Cruz
BAR today april-june 2002
Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) has been an important food source in many developing countries. It’s an ideal food-security crop because of its capacity to adapt to unfavorable conditions. It grows even in poor soil and in areas where other crops fail to be productive, and is resistant to drought and pest infestation.
In the Philippines, cassava tubers are dietary staple and important source of carbohydrate for both man and livestock, and are important cash crop. The cassava tubers also have industrial purposes, particularly as cassava flour, which is now being used as substitute for commercially manufactured flour.
Unknown to many, one of the potentials of cassava farming that hasn’t been fully utilized is the use of cassava foliage as animal feeds.
In a recent study conducted by the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), scientists found that cassava foliage could be used as a potential feed for ruminants. The scientists tried to evaluate the biological and economic potentials of processed cassava leaves as feed for carabaos. Headed by Dr. Caro Salces of PCC, the study was conducted at the Center in Ubay, Bohol.
The study aims to determine effective means to detoxify the cassava foliage for animal feeding purposes, to know the effect of processed cassava foliage on the growth of the carabaos, to identify the effect of sulfur feed supplement on the growth rate of carabaos that were fed with cassava foliage, and to determine the profitability of integrating livestock in a cassava-based farming.
Detoxifying the poison in cassava One limiting factor in using cassava as animal feed is the presence of potential toxic concentrations of cyanide or hydrocyanic acid (HCN). For human consumption, the toxicity of cassava is resolved by cooking. This is the reason why it is not recommended to eat cassava uncooked.
Cassava leaves are important source of micronutrients, protein fiber and ash, which are essential in animal feeds but along with these essential elements is a high cyanide concentration which ranges from 189 parts per million (ppm) to about 2466 ppm depending on the variety.