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Cassava scientists to brainstorm in Tanzania

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Scientists, experts and scaling partners of the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) are set for their fourth annual review and planning session.

This was contained in a statement issued by Mr Godwin Atser, the IITA Digital Extension and Advisory Services Specialist, and made available to journalists on Sunday in Ibadan.He said the aim of the meeting is to discuss and unveil the progress made in cassava agronomy and how such efforts had been addressing the low yield per hectare on farmers’ fields in Nigeria and Tanzania.He remarked that across Africa, yield per hectare of cassava was about nine tonnes per hectare as opposed to Asia with more than 20 tonnes.

This, he said, undermined African cassava farmers’ competitiveness in the export market.The statement quoted the ACAI Project Coordinator, Dr Pieter Pypers, as saying that the meeting was scheduled for Unguja Island in Zanzibar, Tanzania, from Dec. 9 to Dec. 12.

According to him, the meeting would present an opportunity for the entire ACAI team to get together, celebrate the successes of the project, discuss challenges and plan for the fifth year.He said that the meeting would also have less of plenary presentations but more of poster sessions, a world café, breakout sessions and information booths, where scientists, knowledge exchange experts and partners would showcase and share ideas.Pypers added that the meeting would also be about scaling and dissemination first, and how the project had started gaining momentum with Akilimo.

According to him, Akilimo is the mobile agronomy advisory tool developed to serve as the face of ACAI’s decision support system.“It combines data, predictions models, software infrastructure and interfaces, using pragmatic and user-centered approaches to provide the information in ways that are attractive and useful to partners, extension workers and cassava farmers.

“Aside the ACAI team members, partners leading the dissemination of the ACAI Decision Support Tools through extension work in Nigeria and Tanzania expected at the meeting include Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), Farm Concern International (FCI), UWAMWIMA, Minjingu, Psaltry International, 2Scale and NOTORE.“The technical partners working to strengthen Akilimo (VIAMO 321 service, eSOKO digital solutions and Arifu chatbot) will also be present at booth sessions,” he said.


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