IFAD/ IITA/HQCF value chain project organizes farmers’ field day…and provides Kwara farmers with a weeding machine

The IFAD/IITA HQCF Value chain project organized a field day at Ijoga-Orile on 8 December 2015, bringing together HQCF master bakers, extension agents, farmers, financial institutions, input suppliers, local machine fabricators, marketers, nutritionists, processors, researchers, transporters, youth, and students. The event was hosted by project partner Open Door International Ltd.

More than 120 project and non-project farmers participated in the field day. The field day aimed to allow project farmers and non-project farmers to participate and witness the harvesting of the demo farm planted at Ijoga-Orile; bring together all actors in the value chain at Ijoga-Orile and foster a business-oriented sustainable platform; and finally say thank you to the community for welcoming the project and Open Door to Ijoga-Orile.

“The result of profitable cassava production is what we are witnessing today,” said Alhaji Aderemi Mohammed, CEO and Director of Open Door International, who encouraged other farmers within the environs of Ijoga-Orile to work with the project and his processing factory. He said he is ready to procure all cassava roots that the farmers produce.

Various farm inputs were on display, such as herbicides and improved cassava stems; also 10% HQCF/wheat bread was given to participants.

Gregory Nwaoliwe of HQCF Project gives 10% HQCF–wheat bread to participants during the field day.
Gregory Nwaoliwe of HQCF Project gives 10% HQCF–wheat bread to participants during the field day.

During the feedback session, community representatives called for more field days and expressed thanks to IITA for introducing a cassava variety that was able to withstand the dry season conditions and produce a bumper harvest, which they witnessed. One of the youth and a project beneficiary, who spoke on behalf of the other youths, appreciated the effort of the Project for the training they acquired on mechanical planting, farm management, and weed control.

Kehinde Adegbola, a non-project farmer, expressed his surprise at the cassava varieties the project introduced and the bountiful yield. He said he wondered if cassava can be easily harvested irrespective of the dry season. “I can say categorically that the cassava business has been made easy and is now more profitable than before.”

The IFAD/IITA/HQCF Value Chain Project Coordinator, Alenkhe Bamidele, in his closing remarks thanked the community for their warm acceptance of the project and advised all participants to take advantage of all the useful products that the project had introduced within the 12 months of working in Ijoga-Orile. He also urged all actors along the value chain to work together, exploiting existing business opportunities that can be generated within the platform as members of the Ijoga-Orile innovation platform.

…Young cassava farmers and outgrowers of Arogunjo Farm Limited, in Kwara State, Nigeria, were given a cassava weeding machine last December 2015 to ease the back-breaking work of removing weeds from their fields. The machine was donated by the IFAD/IITA High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) Project in collaboration with the IITA Cassava Weed management project.

During the presentation of the machine, over 20 youths and outgrowers including women, were trained were trained on how to use the machine. Bamidele Alenkhe, IFAD/IITA HQCF Project coordinator, advised the youth to maintain the machine properly and also tasked the recipients to appoint a custodian of the machine.

The training highlighted the efficiency, maintenance, and guidelines in the use of the weeder to avoid destroying cassava stems. IITA weed management technician Uchenna Ifeanyi Ene skillfully demonstrated the use of the weeder to uproot the weeds without harming the cassava, and let the training participants try using the machine.

IITA’s Uchenna Ene demonstrates the use of the cassava weeding machine to training participants.
IITA’s Uchenna Ene demonstrates the use of the cassava weeding machine to training participants.

The participants expressed awe at seeing such a machine that could remove weeds growing between cassava plants.

Abdul-Rasaque Alabi, one of the youths, said that the machine was easy to handle. “This machine is very easy to use. If I have the opportunity of buying one, I can plant more cassava on my farm and get very good yields at harvest time, because I know from experience that weeds disturb the root quality of our cassava.”

Another youth, Sadu Jimoh, said that IITA should provide more machines and create further awareness about the weeder because it makes farming easier for the farmers. “If farmers like me can be given this machine for free, and combined with the training that IITA has given me on land preparation and the use of improved cassava varieties, then my productivity will increase year in, year out.

The training and demonstration did not hinder women from participating, Catherine Imola and Mariam Olaoye also tried their hand using the machine. After the demonstration Imola said “I like the machine. I handled it easily, without stress; with this women’s participation in farming will increase and and we will not wait for men to help us uproot weeds in our farm again.” On the other hand, Olaoye said the machine was a little heavy for her to handle. “Manufacturers should make provision for smaller or lighter machines. If I see something that is a little smaller; I will be fine with it,” she said.

IFAD representative visits IITA to review activities of the ongoing HQCF value chain project

Dr Malu (wearing a white cap) with youth at WAHAN Farms, Ilorin.
Dr Malu (wearing a white cap) with youth at WAHAN Farms, Ilorin.

Nearly eighteen months ago, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) launched the IITA-led High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) value chain project which aims at improving the livelihoods and food security of sub-Saharan African farmers. Dr Ndavi Malu, IFAD’s Senior Program Officer, Office of the Associate Vice President, has visited Ibadan to review the activities of the project so far, note challenges, and chart the course for future action.

Dr Malu was received by Dr Ylva Hilbur, DDG Research at IITA. During the 10-day visit, Dr Malu met IITA’s top Management, the IITA Agripreneurs, project implementers, and partners. He also visited various project sites across Oyo, Ogun, and Kwara States to inspect all the production and processing activities that the project initiated with the beneficiaries and also to see firsthand how HQCF has been used to improve the value of confectionery products in Nigeria.

He praised the efforts of the HQCF project team in productively engaging the rural and urban youth through the introduction of improved production technologies,
thereby creating wealth for them and for the country.

He expressed satisfaction about the establishment of innovation platforms whereby resource-poor smallholder farmers were organized as out-grower farmers alongside the local youth to supply fresh cassava to HQCF processing factories.

“I am impressed by the output of the HQCF project,” said Dr Malu during his meeting with Dr Nteranya Sanginga, DG of IITA. He added, “African countries depend on the western world for wheat and this cuts deeply into their foreign reserves…This initiative will help to reduce the importation of food for a country such as Nigeria that is exploring the option of substituting HQCF for wheat.”

Dr Malu also praised the project for carrying out an impressive analysis of the cassava value chain in Nigeria and advised the project to seek and establish more implementing and outreach partners needed to ensure the wide delivery of the project goals.

IFAD/IITA HQCF value chain project team meet with partners to plan 2015 activities

IFAD-IITA (Copy)From 20 to 21 January 2015, the IFAD/IITA High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) value chain project hosted its partners and Farm Managers from the different project sites in Nigeria including the National Roots Crops Research Institute, (NRCRI) Umudike, at IITA headquarters in Ibadan.

The meeting was organized to deliberate on the activities of the previous year and to plan for 2015. Welcoming the project partners, Bamidele Alenkhe said that he believed the outcome of the two-day exercise would prepare all partners better for the activities in 2015.

The meeting also provided a platform for partners to interact and brainstorm on the modalities to successfully achieve the aims and objectives of the project in 2015.

Dr Richardson Okechukwu, who leads the production activities of the project, emphasized its aims and objectives which included reducing poverty, the cost of producing cassava, and the rate of unemployment among the youth. The IITA Youth Agripreneurs also showcased their activities at Osogun Cassava Farm, Oyo State. The previous year’s budget was reviewed; production constraints were discussed and measures to solve them were agreed.

At the end of the two-day progress meeting, Pastor Femi Salami, Director, Oamsal Nigeria Ltd., on behalf of the other partners, thanked the IFAD/IITA project for giving them the opportunity to be involved and promised their unfailing support in 2015.

IFAD backs cassava flour in bread and confectionery

Project participants in a group photo at Sheraton hotel during the launch
Project participants in a group photo at Sheraton hotel during the launch

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is supporting the inclusion of cassava flour in bread and other forms of confectionery as part of efforts to improve food security and the livelihoods of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.

This follows the launching in Lagos on 23 July of two projects under IFAD grants: Enhancing the Competitiveness of the High Quality Cassava Flour Value Chain (HQCF) in West and Central Africa; and Improving Quality, Nutrition and Health Impacts of the Inclusion of Cassava Flour in Bread Formulation in West Africa (Nigeria and Ghana).

The projects will, among others, support the generation, dissemination, and adoption of improved technologies for production and processing; develop and pilot-test a set of integrated best-bet options for HQCF production and promote market access to secondary products; and develop and promote appropriate evidence-based models for sustainable value chain development for African agricultural commodities using HQCF production and processing as an example.

Dr Alfred Dixon, Project Leader of IITA’s Sustainable Weed Management Technologies for Cassava Systems in Nigeria project, represented the Director General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga on the occasion. He described cassava as a “poverty fighter” and said the two IFAD-funded projects were timely.

Improving the use of the crop, and scaling up/out processing technologies would help Africa to address the issues of poverty and hunger on the continent, he said.

“Africa has a comparative advantage in cassava production… so let us use cassava to get what we want.”

Grown mostly by small-scale farmers, cassava is a source of livelihood for about 300 million people in sub-Saharan Africa. However, because the value chain is underdeveloped and the crop spoils relatively quickly after harvesting, farmers are yet to exploit the full potential in terms of livelihood improvement.

Recently researchers from IITA and partners successfully baked bread with 40% percent cassava flour and 60% wheat flour, showing bakers a window of possibilities. IFAD sees this inclusion as a major step that would address food insecurity, create jobs especially for the rural youth, and improve incomes.

Dr Malu Ndavi, Senior Program Officer, IFAD, said, “Our expectation is that these projects will touch the lives of poor farmers.” He urged implementers/ partners to work together towards ensuring that the project’s goals and objectives are delivered on time.

The 18-month project on increasing impact on nutrition and health will be led by Dr Bussie Maziya-Dixon (IITA) and Prof Michael Ngadi (McGill University, Canada). The 36-month project on enhancing the competitiveness of the HQCF value chain will be led by Dr Adebayo Abass from IITA. Other partners include the University of Agriculture Makurdi, Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi, National Root Crops Research Institute Umudike, flour millers, farmers, bakers, and cassava processors among others.