Researchers and 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 Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) to discuss the progress made in the last two years in providing clues to the agronomy of cassava.
The meeting, held 11-15 December, was reviewing the progress made by the ACAI project managed by IITA—and planning for the year ahead.
Addressing participants at the meeting, the Permanent Secretary, Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, expressed optimism that ACAI would provide solutions to some of the problems faced by cassava farmers in Tanzania and sub-Saharan Africa.
The Permanent Secretary was represented by Dr Geophrey Kajiru, Assistant Director, Research and Development.
The Tanzanian meeting, which took place in Mwanza, included a planning workshop for the ACAI 2018 project activities in line with the implementation strategy for year 3. The meeting was thus organized to plan and set goals for 2018 activities, share roles, and understand the expectations of each player represented in the project.
The event also highlighted the transitioning of the project into validation and the onset of the dissemination stage of the decision support tools (DSTs).
Dr Bernard Vanlauwe, Director for Central Africa Hub, IITA, said that ACAI would tap into new opportunities and partnerships to ensure sustainability of the project and use of the tools developed.
Through extensive research working with development partners, ACAI has developed the initial version of the decision support tools that will be showcased at the meeting. This will provide an opportunity for the partners to examine the tools and offer feedback on how the prototype DSTs can be improved. ACAI DSTs are developed based on demand and needs identified by development partners actively engaged in the 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.
“The tools we have developed must meet the needs of development partners, that is why we are planning for the partners to have a practical feel of the tools in Mwanza and share with us their expectations,” Pypers added.
Project team members made presentations on the progress of the work. ACAI is structured in workstreams that inform the project’s critical path through research, development, to the use and dissemination of the final project tools.
Dr Geoffrey Mkamilo, the National Coordinator for Root and Tuber Crops, Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) in Tanzania, 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 had more than 60 participants representing at least 21 organizations partnering with ACAI in Nigeria and Tanzania.