ACAI to boost cassava production
Determined to ensure that cassava yields realise its fullest potential and to also reduce the crop’s yield gap in Africa, the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) project has stepped up efforts in cultivating and fostering the right partnerships.
At present, the project has engaged key actors in Nigeria and Tanzania, ranging from farmers, researchers, extension services, development workers, processors, as well as, input dealers, notably fertilizer manufacturing companies.
According to ACAI Project Coordinator, Dr. Abdulai Jalloh, who disclosed this recently, the main aim is to establish contact among relevant actors for learning and information sharing that will benefit the participating partners, associated with the organisation.
“The ACAI project team from inception realised the importance of partnerships, and is sparing no effort in ensuring effective collaboration among partners from the experimental phase to the development, and use of the tools that will support appropriate management of cassava to realise the crop’s fullest potential on farmers’ fields.”
He noted that the Africa Soil Health Consortium in collaboration with the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) (partners under ACAI) is leading the engagement of key stakeholders in target countries, as the project establishes cassava clusters.
According to him, even though the entry point of ACAI is to address yield gap, it is imperative for strategic considerations of the cassava value chain and inclusiveness of all concerned.
The coordinator said ACAI is conscious of the mistakes of past interventions where bottlenecks were considered in isolation, irrespective of other existing ones and even those that could occur as a result of concentrating on only one aspect.
He emphasised that ACAI would direct efforts towards reducing the yield gap, which would eventually increase cassava production while ensuring impacts along the value chain, with a view to having a sustainable improvement in cassava production, processing, and utilisation, and impact on overall economic development of individuals, communities, and countries.
CABI representative, Mr. James Watiti, who is leading the establishment of cassava value chain clusters, emphasised that it was very crucial to bring all stakeholders together and hold a meaningful conversation in an open manner.
He stressed that as long as there is candid conversation among partners, issues and challenges can be addressed and synergies capitalised on.
The African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) project is a five-year project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project is led by International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and it seeks to increase the availability of appropriate and affordable technologies to sustainably improve short- and long-term agricultural productivity of cassava.