Challenging Bennet's law: the new economics of starchy staples in Asia uri icon

abstract

  • In Asia, the role of tropical root and tuber crops is changing from being food staples to sources of raw materials for processed food products and animal feed. The growing utilization of root and tuber crops in these expanding markets depends critically oil their price competitiveness relative to other commodities, especially maize. In this paper, price relationships among commodities in Asia are examined to assess the potential of cassava and sweet potato in starch and feed markets. For starch, cassava is currently competitive in Southeast Asia. Sweet potato is only competitive in markets that require the special starch traits found in this crop. Plant breeding to increase starch yield from cassava and sweet potato would improve their competitiveness in Asian markets. In the manufacture of least-cost animal feed mixes, the results of a linear-programming model show that most millers are likely to prefer maize over root and tuber crops due in part to the higher cost of protein supplements when using starchy roots and tubers. However, a cassava-soybean compound feed appears to be currently economically viable in Thailand. Sweet potato and cassava are also viable feed options for many small farmers who grow their own feed so long as the protein-rich foliage can be effectively incorporated along with starchy roots in feed rations. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2004
  • 2004