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.