In this part of the world, Cassava is mainly grown for the tubers but this definitely is not the only reason some African countries grow the cassava plant. Nigeria is the world’s highest producer of Cassava root tuber but it appears to me that no one in my country cares about the usage of the abundant cassava leaves either for nutritional or medicinal purposes.The leaves are mostly left to rot on the farm or packed to be given to animals as feed; the latter sounds better.
Sierra leone, Liberia and Guinea are some of the major African nations that include cassava leaves into their diets. In fact, in Sierra leone and Guinea, cassava leaf soup is a staple and usually enjoyed by both the old and young. According to some researches carried out on the leaf, it was found out that cassava leaves contains high amount of protein, minerals and vitamins. It was reported that consumption of 400g cassava leaves is equivalent to protein intake of 45 to 50 grams. For some of the rural communities in countries where it is majorly consumed, cassava leaves had been the major source of protein.
As if that was enough, It contains some amount of vitamin A, vitamin B1 vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, protein, fat, carbohydrate and iron. Also, there is wide believe that the consumption of the leaves can be a cure for rheumatism, headache, fever, diarrhea and intestinal disorder. The irony about this plant is; while the root tuber has been widely criticized by nutritionist as an unhealthy food item due to its high starch content and lack of nutrients, the leaves are loaded with many nutritional values but rarely consumed.
It is important to extend this note of warning to all and sundry that- never should you try to eat cassava leaf in its raw form while believing the leaves are been consumed in other countries. The poisonous cyanide in its leaves is a multiple of that in its tuber. However, cooking process eliminates the poisonous effects and that is why citizens of these countries had continuously enjoyed soup made from it without any long or short term adverse effect
In my opinion, if the leaves are of no economic value to us here in Nigeria, we should consider exporting the leaves to countries where it is enjoyed.
I will be sharing with you the Guinea way of making cassava leaf soup. Keep checking this space for the recipe.