Cassava Reimagined: How Three Sisters Are Taking Cassava to New Heights in Dominica


This article will certainly make you very hungry, especially the descriptions of the stuffed cassava cakes—from Easy-side Cassava Delicacies—made by three sisters in Dominica. [Many thanks to Michael O’Neal for sharing this item from the Dominican Post.]

Cassava, otherwise known as manioc or yuca in some countries, is a long, starchy, tuberous root crop that has been a staple food of our island’s first people for centuries. Traditionally, the Kalinago Territory is the only part of the island where you are sure to find cassava cakes or farine manioc which locals and visitors feast on, especially during the independence season when it is most available.

However, three sisters, Valerie Antoine and Arnique and Sandrine Valmond had a desire to change that. With their business, Easy-side Cassava Delicacies, they wanted to move from selling cassava cakes on the streets of the Territory, to the city of Roseau where they were certain they would attract a larger and more consistent market.

Cassava has been the family business for over thirty years, headed by Alfonse Francis, the grandfather of the 24, 25 and 26 year olds. Naturally, having helped in the factory as youngsters, turning to the trade for a living was almost inevitable. What I witnessed at the Roseau market on Saturday morning, where they are stationed, was nothing short of astounding. The move to the city has paid off.

It’s because of the flavours the ladies have infused in the cassava cakes, a few customers chimed, during my visit. Cassava cakes oozing with fillings we are not used to like jelly, cheese, saltfish and smoked herring. “We are the very first to come up with the idea,” Valerie asserted, having caught wind of another small business springing up with a similar idea.

The stuffed cassava cakes were an immediate hit with customers. “The main reason why we came up with these toppings is for the younger generation; they don’t like the way it was made long [ago]. So, seeing that young people like their cheese, they like raisins… that’s our main reason.”

[. . .] Easy-side Cassava Delicacies, classified as an agro-processing business, exemplifies Government’s efforts to foster a culture of entrepreneurship while taking the agriculture industry to new heights. With government-initiated organisations such as the Dominica Youth Business Trust and the Small Business Unit, officials are hoping that more young persons with innovative ideas will have the means to start their enterprises. Stuffed cassava will not be all the trio serve up either. There are plans to produce cakes, pizzas, quiches, lasagnas, beverages and bread, all made from root crop.

There is a fortune at stake for Dominica in this industry. Although the crop is indigenous to Latin America, that part of the world and the Caribbean only produce about 20% of the global supply, with Africa and Asia producing the rest. The crop is well suited for tropical climates and needs little to no attention to thrive. Once classified as “food for the poor”, the importance of this carbohydrate-rich crop has changed dramatically and more recently, developing countries have been eyeing the tuber as a major cash crop. [. . .]

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