• Sunday, July 21, 2024
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IITA launches initiative to improve cassava yield


The African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) project has kicked-off with plans to improve the livelihoods and incomes of cassava farmers in Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, and DR Congo by researching, and tapping into and implementing best-bet agronomic practices.

The project is an initiative of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) with funding support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It aims to improve cassava yields, cassava root quality, cassava supply to the processing sector, and fertilizer sales, thereby engaging over 100,000 households in Nigeria and
Tanzania, and facilitating the engagement of at least 30 percent women farmers.

Bernard Vanlauwe, IITA Director for Central Africa is quoted in a statement on IITA’s website that “the value of benefits from this project in Nigeria and Tanzania is projected to be over 27 million USD. Furthermore, through engagement of households in Ghana, Uganda, and DR Congo and through extra interest generated in the products developed by the project, these figures are expected to increase for at least 150,000 households and a value created of at least 40 million USD within the 5-year time frame of the project.”

In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), cassava productivity has marginally increased to around 10–11 tons per hectare, well below attainable yields of over 30 tons per hectare. With the need for intensifying cassava production in areas where population densities have reduced access to fallow land and with cassava roots becoming important raw material for the processing sector, this yield gap needs to be reduced.

Audu Ogbe, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development,  according to the statement published on IITA’s website said the current yield of less than 15 tons per hectare makes Nigerian farmers uncompetitive in the cassava sector. “This initiative should find a solution to the issue of low productivity,” Ogbe who was represented by Comfort Awe said.

The ACAI initiative is placed within the context of intensification of cassava-based systems with a focus on the development of cassava agronomy recommendations to improve the productivity and quality of cassava roots in Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, and Uganda, major cassava-producing countries in West and East Africa, and some spill over into East DR Congo. The project will be in phases, starting in Nigeria and Tanzania in years 1 and 2 and expand to the other countries from year 3 onwards.

The statement on IITA’s website concludes it is envisaged that through institutionalization of innovative approaches for problem-solving, the initiative will build the capacity of national partners to sustain the technology development pipeline, deliver continuous improvements in cassava agronomy technologies, as well as address new constraints.