Research for development program

Manioc Manihot glaziovii offers many advantages for food security and economic health in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The project aims to highlight this little-known but promising variety through an ambitious research and development program, coordinated by Prof. Bruno van Pottelsberghe of the ULB – Solvay Brussels School of Economics & Management.

Financial partners


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In the DRC, small-scale farming employs 70% of the working population, and the sector contributed to 19% of the GDP in 2021. The main crop is manioc, which generates up to 86% of farm household income. Cassava is also the staple food of over 90% of the Congolese population, and the DRC is the world’s leading consumer of cassava leaves. The country is also a producer, with almost 46 million metric tons of roots to be harvested by 2021. Cassava cultivation is therefore essential to the DRC’s food security and economic health.

Two types of cassava are consumed in the DRC: Manihot esculenta and Manihot glaziovii. Manihot esculenta dominates the market, as both its leaves and tubers can be eaten. As for the latter, it is only its leaves that are edible. These are in great demand and can be produced and eaten all year round, making them an important item for periods when M. esculenta is no longer available on the markets.


Promoting, structuring and strengthening value chains for the leaves of Manihot glaziovii, a little-cultivated but highly nutritious cassava in great demand among consumers in the DRC, thanks to the research of three doctoral students.

Area of intervention


  • Quality and price of raw products: the sector must guarantee that the products reaching the markets meet the required quality criteria, while ensuring that the added value is distributed fairly.
  • Quality of processed products: the leaf processing and preservation processes need to be studied. The leaves need to be processed precisely to eliminate cyanogenic compounds, and preserved effectively so that they can be consumed more than 48 hours after harvesting.
  • Identifying varieties and growing methods: glaziovii varieties need to be explored in order to find the most productive and disease-resistant varieties. Cultivation methods also need to be optimized.

3 theses to answer

  • Thesis in socio-economics, supervised by Prof. Bruno Van Pottelsberghe of ULB and by Prof. Papy Bonkena of UNIKIN. The aim of this research is to study and boost a fair and inclusive value chain for glaziovii. The results will be discussed with all stakeholders in order to avoid bottlenecks in the development of the value chain.
  • Thesis in Nutritional Sciences, supervised by Prof. Nicolas Korsak of ULiège, Prof. Rosette Kabwang of the University of Geneva and Prof. Pierre Duez from UMONS. This research will enable several processing and preservation techniques to be tested in order to assess the health quality of the food produced. These tests will be carried out both under controlled conditions (laboratories) and under real conditions (in the production villages).
  • Thesis in agronomy, supervised by Prof. Edouard Ilunga, Prof. Marie-Hortense Manyonga Madika from UNILU and Prof. Pierre Duez from UMONS. The aim of this research is to characterise glaziovii lines in terms of both quality (nutritional value, toxicity, tolerance to biotic and/or abiotic stresses) and quantity (productivity).

ULB-Coopération’s role

ULB-Coopération will link research with the needs and realities of family farms in the DRC. Although techniques or technical itineraries may be correct or relevant from a scientific point of view, they do not always meet local constraints.

The varieties characterized by the agronomists will therefore be tested in the Farmer Field Schools (FFS) of Central Kongo, combining different agro-ecological technical itineraries. Farmers will also be involved in defining the criteria for evaluating the varieties.

The transformation and conservation processes will also be tested under real conditions with the same members of the CEP. Samples will be sent to laboratories and compared with samples obtained under controlled conditions.


  • M.glaziovii producers
  • M.glaziovii processors
  • M.glaziovii distributors (traders, retailers, etc.)
  • Farmers’ families in the DRC
  • Households consuming cassava leaves in and outside the DRC
  • The Congolese government and the population as a whole

Operational Partners


498.315,40 €



Contact persons: Ernest MUANDA et Florian DELESPESSE