Cassava commercialization project launched in Malawi
In its unceasing efforts to support Malawi to improve rural livelihoods IITA launched a new cassava project “Promoting cassava commercialization for increased income, employment and food security in Malawi” on 8 March in Lilongwe.
The project, which is funded by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ)-Malawi, focuses on (1) Facilitating the development of strong associations between producers and agroprocessors along the cassava value chain; (2) Promoting cassava processing and strengthening the capacity of farmer groups and individual entrepreneurs to plan, implement, and manage value-addition for improved market access and incomes; (3) Promoting the adoption of improved technologies and practices through participatory approaches for increased productivity, competitiveness, and profitability of cassava production; and (4) Strengthening the capacity of farmers’ groups and individual entrepreneurs to produce and market their cassava products.
The launch also provided an opportunity to orient the stakeholders with the project activities, update them on the progress made so far, discuss the annual work plan, and establish the necessary collaborative arrangements for the implementation of the project. The launch was opened by the Assistant Director of the Department of Agricultural Research Services, Elisa Mazuma. In his speech Mazuma commended the existing partnership among stakeholders and called for its continuity for the benefit of all players along the cassava value chain in the country.
Speaking at the same function, the IITA-Malawi Country Representative, Arega Alene, thanked the Malawi government for its long-standing support to IITA work in Malawi and for its commitment to increase cassava production and commercialization as part of a larger effort aimed at crop diversification.
“In IITA, we believe in projects that benefit the country as a whole, but more specifically farmers. We are looking at cassava not only as a major food security crop but also as a significant source of income and employment, so our aim is to help African countries to develop varieties with dual resistance to both cassava mosaic and cassava brown streak diseases, drought tolerance, yellow-flesh (rich in pro-Vitamin A), and end-user preferred traits as part of a larger effort aimed at promoting cassava commercialization and value chains,” said Arega.
In his welcoming remarks the Regional Cassava Breeder who is also the Coordinator for the project, Pheneas Ntawuruhunga, described the significant progress IITA has made in cassava research as both ground breaking and beneficial to farmers. “The key issue constraining increased cassava production is lack of market opportunities. This project will work with all stakeholders from variety development to value addition to increase cassava production to meet increasing market demand and for commercialization,” Ntawuruhunga said.
A total of 35 participants (30 men and 5 women) from the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development (Departments of Agricultural Research Services and Agricultural Extension Services), the manufacturing industry, small and medium processors, Cassava: Adding Value in Africa (C:AVA), GIZ, IITA, CIP, and the farming community attended.