Tapioca Starch (manihot escalenta)
Cassava is the chief source of tapioca. The cassava plant grows in a bushy form, up to 2.4m (8ft) tall, with greenish-yellow flowers. The roots are up to 8cm (3in) thick and 91cm (36in) long.
The term "tapioca" is used to designate products made from cassava like starch and dried chips. The inner part of the root is called the parenchyma, this is processed to produce tapioca starch.
Cassava is the staple food of at least 500 million people and is the third most important food source in the tropics after rice and maize. It originated in Brazil and possibly also in Central America and was introduced into Africa hundreds of years ago.
It is a hardy crop that is resistant to drought and gives good yields on low fertility soils, it is of great importance for subsistence farmers throughout the tropics.