Researchers, policymakers meet in Tanzania to discuss cassava agronomy


Scientists across Africa and their colleagues in other parts of the world met with policymakers in Tanzania, under the auspices of the African Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) to discuss the progress made in the last two years in providing clues to the agronomy of cassava.

The meeting, held from December 11 to 15, 2017, was meant to review the progress made by ACAI—a project managed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)— and plan for the year ahead.

Addressing participants, the Permanent Secretary, Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, represented by Dr. Geophrey Kajiru, Assistant Director, Research and Development, expressed optimism that the ACAI project would provide solutions to some of the problems faced by cassava farmers in Tanzania and sub-Saharan Africa.

The Tanzanian meeting, which took place in Mwanza, also included a planning workshop for the ACAI 2018 project activities in line with the implementation strategy for year three of the project. The meeting was thus organised for planning and setting new goals for the 2018 activities, sharing roles, and understanding the expectations of each party represented in the project.

The Director for Central Africa Hub with the IITA, Dr. Bernard Vanlauwe, said ACAI would tap into new opportunities and partnerships to ensure the sustainability of the project and use of the tools developed.

Through extensive research working with development partners, ACAI developed the initial version of the decision support tools showcased at the meeting, which provided an opportunity for the partners to examine the tools and offer feedback on how the prototype Decision Support Tools (DSTs) can be improved. ACAI DSTs are developed based on demand and needs identified by development partners actively engaged in cassava value chain.

ACAI’s Senior Systems Agronomist, Dr. Pieter Pypers said the interaction among project partners would generate concrete ideas that would be incorporated into the development of the DSTs to make them more useful and user-friendly.Project team members made presentations on the progress of the work under their specific roles in the project. ACAI is structured in work streams that inform the project’s critical path through research, development, to the use and dissemination of the final project tools.

The National Coordinator for Root and Tuber Crops, Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) in Tanzania, Dr. Geoffrey Mkamilo, said the project had made significant gains in 2017 in research, especially in meeting the high demand data in ACAI.

“The trials have performed very well, especially when you look at cassava response to fertilizer in the field, we are looking to hear about updates from other project sites,” Dr Adeyemi Olojede, ACAI coordinator at the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike said.

The project has achieved significant milestones in 2017, a trend that the core team and partners will be seeking to further in the new season.The meeting in Tanzania has more than 60 participants representing at least 21 organisations, partnering ACAI in Nigeria and Tanzania.

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