CMS Project holds Review and Planning Workshop; hosts Gates Foundation Senior Program officer
The Cassava Monitoring Survey (CMS) in Nigeria held its Annual Review and Planning Workshop on 5 February. The workshop drew participants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Root Crop Research Institute, Umudike, and IITA.
Victor Manyong, IITA Director for Eastern Africa and leader of the social science research group, during the opening of the workshop, acknowledged the support of the Gates Foundation in providing the resources for the implementation of CMS as well as partners from Nigeria for the joint implementation of the project. Elvis Fraser, Senior Program Officer, Measurement, Learning and Evaluation at the Gates Foundation praised IITA for leading cutting edge research in sustainable agriculture and food security in sub-Saharan Africa.
During the plenary session, Tahirou Abdoulaye presented the preliminary research results on the components of the household survey. According to him, findings indicated that the adoption rate of improved cassava varieties was above 50% among the 2,500 farmer-respondents, with more than 70% of them sourcing improved germplasm from family members, friends, neighbors, and other farmers.
On the drawbacks, Abdoulaye said “several cassava varieties share the same agronomic traits that make accurate identification of each variety very difficult, if not completely impossible”. He also highlighted aspects of GPS-based field measurements, farmers’ varietal preferences, trait preferences for production, processing, and consumption among adopters and, the gender dimension of these themes during his presentation.
Results from this analysis will facilitate the production of dendrograms that would highlight the genetic families of the varieties for their correct identification.
IITA scientists Ismail Rabbi and Gezahegn Tessema gave a presentation on the DNA fingerprinting of collected samples aimed at accurate and scientific identification of the varieties that were found on farmers’ fields.
Participants at the workshop were unanimous in their opinion that the novel approach of using DNA fingerprinting to identify cassava varieties that farmers have adopted holds immense advantage over other approaches previously used. It was also noted that farmers’ perception of what they grew influenced their behavior in terms of crop management; therefore impact studies using farmers’ perception of varieties are very important. Participants agreed on the way forward, building on discussions held after the presentation by Assfaw Tesfamicheal.
At the close of the workshop, Fraser commended the efforts of the CMS Project team. He opined that he was very impressed with the progress of the Project; the milestones covered so far; the quality of the outputs, and the expertise of the team working on the project.
During the same week, Gates Foundation representatives Jacob Mignouna and Fraser discussed with partners from IITA, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), and the Nigerian Institute for Social and Economic Research a potential new initiative on baseline surveys in the Gates Foundation priority states and commodities in Nigeria to be led by OAU, and a second potential new initiative on learning agenda from Gates Foundation grants to IITA to be led by IITA.
CMS is supported by the Gates Foundation and applies the latest innovative methods in adoption studies that include the use of computer-based applications for timely data collection and processing in survey enumerations, GPS-based area measurements, DNA-based techniques for the accurate identification of crop varieties, and combining both qualitative and quantitative approaches to elicit gendered preferences in the choice of variertal traits.