African cassava initiative moves to reduce yield gap on the continent

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The African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) said on Saturday that it had strengthened its relationship with partners with the aim of reducing the cassava yield gap on the continent.

The ACAI Project Coordinator, Dr Abdulai Jalloh, said this in a statement in Ibadan that the body’s project team realized the importance of partnerships and had spared no effort in ensuring effective collaboration among partners from the experimental to the developmental phase.
According to him, the partnership will cover the use of the tools that will support appropriate management of cassava to realise the crop’s fullest potential on farmers’ fields.
He said the project had 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.

“The main aim is to establish contact among relevant actors for considerations for learning and information sharing that will benefit the participating partners associated with ACAI.
“The Africa Soil Health Consortium in collaboration with the Center for Agriculture and Bioscience International (partners under ACAI) are leading the engagement of key stakeholders in target countries as the project establishes cassava clusters,” Jalloh said.
He said although the entry point of ACAI was to address yield gap, it was imperative for strategic considerations of the cassava value chain and inclusiveness of those concerned.
According to him, ACAI is conscious of the mistakes of past interventions where bottlenecks were considered in isolation irrespective of other existing ones.

Jalloh further emphasized that ACAI would direct efforts toward reducing the yield gap which would eventually increase cassava production.

“We will ensure that we have impacts along the value chain with a view to having a sustainable improvement in cassava production, processing, and utilization.
“We want to also make impact on the overall economic development of individuals, communities, and countries, “ he explained.
Also, Mr James Watiti of CABI, who leads the establishment of cassava value chain clusters, emphasised that it was very crucial to bring all stakeholders together.
He stressed that as long as there is candid conversation among partners, issues and challenges could be addressed and synergies capitalized on.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that ACAI project is a five-year project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in U.S.
The project is led by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.
It seeks to increase the availability of appropriate and affordable technologies to sustainably improve short and long-term productivity of cassava.