CassVita, founded by an MIT alumnus, has created biotechnology to increase the shelf life of cassava, a nutritious but perishable root vegetable.
The root vegetable cassava is a major food staple in dozens of countries across the world. Drought-resistant, nutritious, and tasty, it has also become a major source of income for small-scale, rural farmers in places like West Africa and Southeast Asia.
However, the utility of cassava has always been limited by its short postharvest shelf life of two to three days. That puts millions of farmers who rely on the crop in a difficult position. The farmers can’t plant more than they can sell quickly in local markets, and they’re often forced to sell below market prices because buyers know the harvest will spoil rapidly. As a result, cassava farmers are among the world’s poorest people.
Now the startup CassVita is buying cassava directly from farmers and applying a patent-pending biotechnology to extend its shelf life to 18 months . . .