Spanish explorers probably first introduced cassava to Asia, through the Philippines, from its Latin American homeland. By the beginning of the 19th century it was widely distributed throughout tropical Asia. At the turn of the century, the Philippines had about 210,000 hectares under cassava cultivation, mostly in Mindanao. Yields are fairly low, in comparison to other ASEAN members, at around 8.5 tons per hectare. In 2011, the Philippines produced approximately 2,200 tons, showing a steady increase over previous years. Cassava is ranked third amongst the food crops, after rice and maize.
Mostly smallholdings for domestic consumption, a few large plantations exist supplying starch factories. San Miguel Corporation is a major producer of cassava products, with contracted suppliers of <20 ha. Research and development is conducted at UPLB, mostly focused on variety improvement, while bioethanol is promoted by the Bureau of Agricultural Research. The major source for ethanol is sugarcane.
In addition to SMC, cassava starch producers/suppliers include Macrolite Corporation, Philippine Starch Industrial Corp., Heindrich Agri Corp., Snowking and Dufil International. There appears to be no national cassava consortium drawing together government and private sector resources. There exists a Cassava Planters and Millers Association of the Philippines (in Pasig City) however, they do not appear to have a listed web site or email contact. Early in 2012 Eastern Petroleum announced it had abandoned plans for an ethanol from cassava plant, citing insufficient supply.
Research and promotion of cassava is conducted by the Philippines Root Crops Research and Training Center in Baybay, as well as the University of the Philippines with collaboration from CIAT..