Saturday, 4th December 2021
<To guardian.ng
Search
Breaking News:
News  

Stakeholders seek national adoption of ‘Six Steps’ toolkit, improved cassava varieties

By Gbenga Akinfenwa
06 December 2020   |   3:51 am
Stakeholders and policymakers in the agric sector are advocating the adoption of the Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management & Best Planting Practices toolkit, developed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture....

Stakeholders and policymakers in the agric sector are advocating the adoption of the Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management & Best Planting Practices toolkit, developed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Oyo State and the use of improved cassava varieties, to increase cassava productivity.
   
At a one-day meeting tagged: “Addressing the yield gap in cassava during COVID-19 era: The role of Cassava Seed System and the Six Steps to Weed Management & Best Planting Practices of AKILIMO,” held at the Conference Centre of IITA, the institute’s researchers presented field reports on how farmers applying the initiative were getting impressive yields of cassava of more than 20 tons per hectare, as opposed to the national average of nine tons per hectare.
 
In his welcome remarks, IITA Deputy Director General (Partnerships and Delivery), Dr. Kenton Dashiell, advised government authorities in the country to give priority to technologies that enhance the productivity of cassava in order to reduce the country’s food and raw materials import bill.

 
In his keynote address, the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Mrs Karima Babangida, said Nigeria would attain its true potential in cassava by adopting the “Six Steps…” toolkit and other agronomic practices with the use of cassava stems of improved varieties.

Babangida, who was represented by Raji Hakeem, FMARD Cassava Desk Officer, called for adequate policies and technologies that could raise the productivity of cassava to 40 metric tons per hectare to compete with other cassava exporting countries like Thailand.
 
“It is my firm belief that, the challenges posed to cassava production could be surmounted through the adoption of appropriate policy measures, deployment of efficient technologies, improved agronomic practices and cropping systems that would take maximum advantage.”
 
The Director for Development & Delivery of IITA, Dr. Alfred Dixon noted that poor weed management and agronomy, and the low use of improved varieties, had been the bane of cassava productivity in Nigeria.

 
He advised governments to step back from policies that disrupt the seed system, and help farmers adopt the Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management and Best Planting Practices toolkit. He stressed that the impact of poor weed management and agronomy stretched beyond agriculture into other sectors of life including health and education.

He said:  “One of the realities of poor weed management and agronomy is that women spend about 500 hours per year to keep one hectare of cassava farm weed-free. This compromises the health of women. And in some cases, girls are withdrawn from school to support weeding.”
 
Commissioners for Agriculture present also vowed to push the adoption of the Six Steps toolkit and improved varieties in their states. The Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Delta State, Julius Egbedi; and Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security in Ekiti State, Prince Adetoyi Olabode, speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, both noted that use of local varieties and impaired agronomic practices were the two major factors militating against cassava in their states.
 
They both promised to set machinery in motion to see how their states could train extension agents and farmers on the Six Steps toolkit, as well as the use of cassava stems of improved varieties, to boost the ongoing agricultural transformation programs in their states.