Cassava , botanically classified as Manihot esculenta, is a woody shrub native to South America of the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. It is an annual crop majorly in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous roots, and source of carbohydrates. It is referred to as yuca in Spanish and in the United States. Cassava, when dried to a powdery ( a pearly ) extract, it is called tapioca; its fermented flaky, version is called garri.
Cassava is classified as either sweet or bitter. Like other roots and tubers, both sweet and bitter varieties of cassava contain anti-nutritional factors and toxins, with the bitter varieties containing much larger amounts. It must be properly prepared before consumption.
Cassava 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, while Thailand is the largest exporter of dried cassava.