Farmers, AKILIMO poised to boost cassava production in S’East

Stakeholders in the cassava value chain in Abia have promised to support cassava farmers with different AKILIMO tools to boost productivity in the South-East.

The stakeholders made the promise at the AKILIMO Nigeria South-East Committee and the innovation platform meeting held in Umuahia on Saturday.

The meeting was intended to boost the stakeholders’ participation in bundling services efforts to accelerate the use of AKILIMO tools.

It was organised by the International Institute for Agricultural Research, where the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) project is domiciled.

The project is funded by Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation and is expected to expire by June 2022.

The AKILIMO tools were developed by ACAI to enhance cassava production and consistent access to cassava roots.

They are designed to help create access to market, credit facility and agro inputs.

They are also expected to boost sales for input companies, access to cassava roots for processing factories and enhanced income earnings for farmers.

They offer advisory for farmers on best fertiliser use, scheduled planting, intercropping and best planting practices.

The bundling services meeting brought together farmers, processor companies, agrochemical and seed companies, which would be servicing the farmers.

The stakeholders pledged their commitment to collaborate with cassava farmers and sustain the use of AKILIMO beyond June 2022, when the project would end.

The meeting was attended by major players in the sector, including Notore Chemical Industries Plc, Bayer Nig. Ltd., Umudike Seeds, National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike (NRCRI) and Kolping Society of Nigeria.

Others were Network of Women and Youths in Agriculture Nigeria and Ebonyi-based cassava processing company, Ogbuoji Farms & Processing Company (OFPC), among others.

Mr Samson Oguntoye, Notore Regional Manager for Agronomy and Extension Services, (South), described the development as a positive step for improvement in cassava production.

Oguntoye gave assurance that his company would support the initiative with the fertiliser blend specially developed for cassava.

We want to see more and more people get knowledge of AKILIMO, get knowledge of right practices and improve their productivity and output from their cassava farms.

I’m happy that we have this MoU signed and we will be meeting again in few weeks time to follow up on the execution of the bundling services activities in OFPC, Enugu State,” he said.

Dr Adeyemi Olojede, an agronomist and South-East Coordinator for ACAI project in NRCRI, expressed happiness over the outcome of the meeting.

It shows that there is future for AKILIMO as advisory for cassava production in the South-East,” said Olojede, who is a director at NRCRI.

Dr Thompson Ogunsanmi, Scaling Specialist at IITA, who facilitated the meeting, alongside ACAI AKILIMO promoter, Ms. Josephine Fasakin, said that AKILIMO Nigeria Committee was set up in 2021.

He said that the idea was to ensure the sustainability plan beyond the lifespan of ACAI project.

Ogunsanmi said that there would be another stakeholder sustainability meeting in Lagos or Ibadan, where more cassava actors and other major stakeholders in AKILIMO project in Nigeria would participate.

Also, Fasakin expressed satisfaction with the MoU and promised that the partners would boost AKILIMO use and uptake through bundling services.

Highlights of the meeting included the signing of the MoU between farmer groups of Enugu-based Network of Women and Youths in Agriculture Nigeria and OFPC.

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