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Cassava value chain/ West & East Africa - Scientists and development partners spot agronomy as a cure for cassava production issues

07 June 2015

In collaboration with national partner institutes and development partners, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) scientists, are gathering to define which agronomic practices could narrow the cassava yield gap and how these can be scaled up to many farmers in Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, and Uganda in a new initiative, African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI). The initiative is planned to commence in 2016. ACAI aims to take cassava to scale in cassava-based systems in sub-Saharan Africa. Upon implementation, ACAI will be driven mainly by implementing partners and focus on the agronomy requirements of cassava fields and integrating best practices for other management objectives. According to IITA Director for Central Africa, Dr Bernard Vanlauwe, FAO figures in 2011 showed that Africa produces more cassava than any other crop. More land is cultivated for the crop but yields are low, with current estimates ranging between 8 and 15 t/ha against an achievable yield of more than 30 t/ha. ACAI will basically request information from development partners engaged in cassava value chain activities to issue agronomy information needed to improve the sector. After conducting first studies to examine the potential of combining inorganic fertilizer and good agronomy practices on cassava fields in Uganda and DR Congo, Dr Vanlauwe found that the combination could give high yields while also allowing farmers to cultivate cassava with other crops, such as nutritious beans and soybean, on the same plot and at the same time. The study revealed that by training farmers to know the specific needs of the cassava variety on their farm lands and also to diagnose nutrient requirements properly on their fields, farmers can have much better harvests.


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