Expert Warns Against Eating Wild Cassava

3640 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Cassava experts at National Crop Resources Research Institute NaCRRI are warning against eating wild cassava commonly planted in some compounds for shade.

Cassava experts at National Crop Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) are warning against eating wild cassava commonly planted in some compounds for shade.

With the growing hunger across the country, Dr. Bua Anton, the National Cassava Program Team leader is reminding people that eating hazardous wild cassava can lead to serious illness and even death.

Bua says unlike the domesticated cassava varieties, the wild cassava has very high content of poisonous cyanide toxins in excess of World Health Organisation (WHO) standards. 

He told Uganda Radio Network that a person who has eaten wild cassava tubers either row or cooked feels symptoms like nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhoea among others.

//Cue In: "Usually they are...
Cue Out…stomach ache."//

Media reports recently indicated that a ten-year-old child in Kumi district died after he had eaten poisonous cassava. Four other people from the same family were hospitalised at Atutur hospital. A similar incident was reported in January from Buwunga Sub County in Bugiri district where a five-year child is said to have died.

Dr. Bua says a team from his Programme was sent out following the recent reports but he says it did not trace the alleged victims.

Meanwhile he says consumers of Cassava from DRC should be observing the required preparations procedure to minimise the poisonous cyanide toxins. The bitter cassava from Congo should according to Dr Bua be fermented for seven days before iot can be prepared for consumption. 

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Cue Out:….of head ache."// 

While cassava is the third-most important food source in tropical countries, the roots and leaves of poorly processed cassava plants contain a substance that, when eaten, can trigger the production of cyanide.

While Dr. Bua was reluctant to venture into debate on this, some studies are linking the high level of cyanide in crops like cassava to climate change.

A recent "Environment Frontiers Report"  by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said the problem is likely to worsen with global temperatures set to rise by more than three degrees Celsius.

One of the major findings from the report was  that as nature forces plants to adapt to drought or flood conditions, they turn on - or accumulate - different toxins that make them unpalatable or even poisonous to people and livestock.