Culture

The longest cassava is it good or bad for Teso?

Last month, July 2021, I saw screaming celebratory headlines on various platforms, including those for Voice of Teso, heralding the discovery of the longest cassava in the world in Teso.

Photo credit @ Voice of Teso

And when I saw the pictures of the cassava, it immediately reminded me of a conversation that I had in November of 2016 with a women’s group in Serere. During our conversation, the importance of cassava as a staple food for Iteso was confirmed.

Photo credit @ Voice of Teso

We, Iteso, need cassava for making our atap (either sorghum and/or millet mixed in cassava to make atap ugali). However, in the past, it has been our experience that some of those genetically modified cassava varieties have not been user friendly to consume in atap.

The cassava from Serere Research Institute is not edible as atap. If you mix it to make atap, the atap just turns into liquid form on the plate. And by the way a lot of that cassava got rotten in the garden and we had to plough it down.

They say that that cassava was for boiling to eat as a snack with tea. It is not for using in atap. When it is ready to harvest, you sell it at the garden when it is still fresh so that the buyers go and use it for making chips or for roasting. That cassava brought for us the monkey (hunger).

Members of a women’s group in Serere

Indeed, some of the experts who were celebrating the longest cassava similarly indicated that among its important uses could be bakeries for making biscuits and breweries for making alcohol.

Photo credit @ Voice of Teso

Now, if the new ‘modern’ varieties of cassava are not good for eating as atap, should we as Iteso celebrate them?

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