The exact origins of cassava (Manihot esculenta) are not yet known, but it is thought that it arose in central Brazil. Cassava was likely domesticated between 7,000 and 9,000 years ago in the Amazon and is now grown throughout the tropical regions of the world.
Root crops are an essential part of historic Pacific island diets, but taro, sweet potato, and yam are the traditional root crops of the region. Cassava was introduced to the Pacific sometime around 1800 during the early years of European contact. It has become an important dietary staple and in some entities is produced in larger quantity than the traditional, preferred root crops. In the Pacific region, cassava is generally not produced on a large scale. It is grown in subsistence and home gardens, and is available in local markets.
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Last updated 10 December 2012
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