IITA gets new training facilities for cassava processing in Tanzania

IITA’s efforts to promote the processing of cassava in Tanzania have received a major boost with the completion and handing over of newly constructed facilities for a training center on cassava processing on 27 January. Facilities included an equipment fabrication workshop, a cassava processing center, and offices.

SARD-SCThe construction of the buildings, which are on land donated by the Government of Tanzania to IITA in Kwembe, about 30 km from Dar es Salaam, was funded by the Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARD-SC) project. This is a multinational, CGIAR-led project, funded by the African Development Bank and led by IITA.

The buildings are part of the project’s efforts to support the generation of agricultural technology and innovations through the construction of improved facilities that support efficient dissemination of postharvest cassava processing technologies to the farming communities.

On hand to receive the building was Edward Kanju, a senior Scientist at IITA-Tanzania on behalf of the IITA Director for the Eastern Africa hub, Victor Manyong.

(from left) Clare Ruwenza, Veronica Uzokwe, Edward Kanju, Claude Shikonyi, Zulfawu Yahaya, and Davis Mwekanyamale, at the handing-over event.
(from left) Clare Ruwenza, Veronica Uzokwe, Edward Kanju, Claude Shikonyi, Zulfawu Yahaya, and Davis Mwekanyamale, at the handing-over event.

Also present at the event was Veronica Uzokwe, the Country Coordinator of the IITA/SARD-SC project. Uzokwe emphasized that the center would go a long way in supporting IITA’s efforts to disseminate cassava postharvest innovation/technologies and value addition. This in turn is expected to contribute to improving food security to overcome hunger, improve livelihoods, and lift the country out of poverty.

She said the training center will bring together stakeholders from across the country for theoretical and practical lessons on postharvest cassava processing technologies.

“The project is complete and ready to operate; we hope that IITA will get more funds for operational efficiency,” said Uzokwe.

According to Bakari Abdallah, IITA/SARD-SC Research Assistant, the project has purchased improved cassava postharvest processing machines that will be installed this month.

“We have already purchased equipment such as a hammer mill, fryers, hydraulic presses, and peeling and chipping machines ready for installation in the cassava processing building. The machines will speed up the processing of high quality cassava products compared to local technologies.” said Bakari.

Others present at the handing over ceremony were Zulfawu Yahaya, IITA/SARD-SC Procurement Specialist; Clare Ruhweza, IITA Regional Maintenance Officer; Gilbert Kimboka, Assistant Maintenance Officer at IITA-Tanzania; Davis Mwakanyamale, SARD-SC Country Supervisor; and Onugbolu Onyekachi, a consultant Quantity Surveyor from IITA-Ibadan, Nigeria.

Enhancing soybean production in Nigeria through the SARD-SC maize system

The IITA/SARD-SC maize system soybean production enhancement planning workshop was held 1-4 February in Abuja to promote soybean cultivation and utilization in Nigeria. The workshop became imperative because of the huge deficit in the annual demand for the crop. Demand is currently estimated at 2.2 million tons; the annual production of 600,000 tons is grossly inadequate to meet this demand hence the need for a concerted effort to bridge the gap.

Chrys Akem reiterates the importance of promoting soybean at the workshop.
Chrys Akem reiterates the importance of
promoting soybean at the workshop.

The project is expected to mobilize the strength and expertise of stakeholders in the maize–soybean value chain to support production of soybean, a complementary crop to the maize commodity value chain in the SARD-SC project.

In his opening remarks, Chrys Akem, SARD-SC Project Coordinator, reiterated the importance of soybean and bemoaned the current low cultivation of the legume in the country.

“This workshop is an opportunity for us to walk our way back to the days when we had a surplus and strengthen soybean cultivation as a companion crop to maize.” Akem enumerated the many advantages of soybean as a food and nutritional security crop in Africa and the many existing high yielding varieties with good resistance to rust. He mentioned the opportunity for market linkages through the innovation platforms while challenging the soybean growers and poultry feed millers to maintain the sustainability of the soybean industry.

Sam Ajala, Maize Commodity Specialist, emphasized how the workshop participants could help map out a focused and clear goal for the crop in the next five years, and introduce business-led models to market soybean.

In his paper, titled Enhancing Soybean Production within the SARD-SC Maize Project in Nigeria, Kolawole Ojo, SARD-SC Soybean Scientist, stated the economic importance of the crop and the complementarity of maize-soybean production. “Soybean improves soil fertility through atmospheric nitrogen fixation. Processed soybeans are the world’s largest source of animal feed and the second largest source of vegetable oil,” he said.

Ojo said that the SARD-SC project will help generate improved maize and soybean production/utilization technologies; ensure dissemination/promotion of improved technologies; enhance food and nutrition security; and contribute to poverty reduction in Africa. Ojo emphasized the importance of partnership with national and international scientists, seed companies, processors, farmers, NGOs, and extension workers as part of the operational strategy to achieve these projections. Some of the steps to enhance soybean production include capacity building of the value chain actors, and generation and promotion of preferred maize/soybean varieties that could be adapted to various agroecologies and that are tolerant to major biotic and abiotic stresses.

Soybean scientists from research institutes, soybean farmers, poultry farmers, representatives of seed companies, and other interested stakeholders attended the workshop and brainstormed on the strategies to enhance soybean cultivation. They also deliberated on the way forward for soybean production enhancement.

SARD-SC organizes workshop in Cameroon on using IP approach to increase income for maize farmers

Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops (SARD-SC), one of IITA’s projects working to improve productivity and income from growing maize, rice, cassava, and wheat, has partnered with the Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (IRAD) and organized a two-day workshop in Cameroon. The workshop aimed at laying a solid ground for the implementation of maize as a commodity using the Value Chain Innovation Platform (IP) approach with the potential of increasing the income of smallholder farmers in Cameroon.

IRAD and IITA scientists were in attendance together with members of staff from the Agricultural Investment and Markets Development (PIDEM) Project, The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC), Humidtropics national staff in Cameroon, and farmers from different parts of Cameroon.

The two-day workshop, held 19-20 March, was initiated by Dr Sam Ajala, Coordinator of maize commodity under SARD-SC and supported by Dr Chrysantus Akem, SARD-SC.

Cameroon is one of the Central African states where maize is regarded as an important staple food and a cash crop for the vast majority of the population. In 2013, a collaborative research
project to introduce improved maize varieties in Cameroon through IRAD was initiated by Dr Abebe Menkir, IITA’s Maize Improvement Program Coordinator, with assistance from Dr Silvestro Meseka, under the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE). MAIZE has opened a window of opportunity for IITA not only to introduce new varieties/hybrids into the five agroecologies of Cameroon, but has also provided a platform for IITA and IRAD scientists to interact in many ways.

Other topics discussed during the workshop were the past and present state of maize improvement in Cameroon; experiences of IITA’s implementation of regional maize projects in West and Central Africa since 1987 to date; highlights of the SARD-SC project using the IP of the commodity value chain approach; opportunities for IRAD’s maize improvement program to collaborate; possible strategies towards addressing the gaps and challenges to maize improvement in Cameroon, and the way forward. Two PhD students, future maize breeders in Cameroon, also presented their work. They are the next hope for Cameroon in maize breeding.

Dr Rachid Hanna, IITA-Cameroon Country Representative, also led the SARD-SC team in Cameroon to meet Dr Joseph Bedima, Director General of IRAD. Their meeting discussed partnerships and collaborative research work and networking between IITA and IRAD.

Maize Improvement Workshop participants pose for a group photo.
Maize Improvement Workshop participants pose for a group photo.

IITA Management cites SARD-SC for impressive implementation

The IITA Management has commended the SARD-SC project, funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), for its highly satisfactory implementation and the meaningful impact the commodity value chains are making in the lives of the beneficiaries. Director General Nteranya Sanginga led the team comprising Mr Kwame Kwame Akuffo-Akoto, Deputy Director General, Corporate Services; Dr Ylva Hillbur, DDG, Research for Development, and Mr  Omoshalewa Sholola, Director of Finance, during the recent internal  evaluation conducted 21 April.

DG Nteranya Sanginga (middle) driving home a point during the internal project evaluation. Others in photo are (from left) Omoshalewa Sholola, Finance Director, and Ylva Hillbur, DDG, Research for Development.
DG Nteranya Sanginga (middle) driving home a point during the internal project evaluation. Others in photo are (from left) Omoshalewa Sholola, Finance Director, and Ylva Hillbur, DDG, Research for Development.

Dr Sanginga said he was delighted that the project was on track, and praised the achievements recorded so far since its inception in 2012. “I am quite impressed by what you have achieved so far in terms of new varieties, technology dissemination, and value addition to commodities and how they are changing lives, generating income and employment for the people.”

The DG said the evaluation was conducted to give an update of the project’s progress in the areas of technology dissemination in preparation for the Mid-Term Review (MTR), and its financial standing, and also to discuss possible solutions to any implementation challenges.“The SARD-SC project is very important, not because it has a huge budget but in terms of the impact it is designed to have on the productivity of and income from the value chains of the commodities you work with and  the lives of the people. This is a project which  allows us to assess the impact of some of our mandate crops – cassava,  rice, maize, and wheat. It is one project that helps to maintain strong IITA relationships with the AfDB.”

The evaluation started with Dr Chrys Akem, Project Coordinator, presenting an overview of the activities and achievements of the project on the value chains for the four mandate crops. He went on to highlight their impact on the livelihoods of many in the project target countries. His presentation also highlighted new varietal development of the target commodities and their dissemination to farmers and farmers’ groups. He also spoke of the project’s distribution of better quality cassava stems to farmers, improvements in the mechanization of production systems for all the commodities, and infrastructural development with the building of cassava processing centers in DR Congo, Tanzania, Zambia, and Sierra Leone. The establishment of these processing centers had led to new product development (confectionery with cassava flour) hitherto unknown in some of these countries. Consequently, it had fostered a strong sense of community engagement, especially the women. Included in his presentation was an update on the procurement and financial status of the project.

Dr Akem explained that  the  project activities had been  aligned with IITA’s refreshed strategy in the areas of increased food security and availability, increased profitability of food products, and sustainability of natural resource management.

It was not all rosy for the project, as he revealed some of the challenges in the areas of procurement and financial disbursement. He also pointed out some of the opportunities going forward as the project takes on the mid-term review.

The DG urged the project team to ensure that they used the forthcoming MTR as an opportunity to record their recommendations in the Bank’s final documents. Other members of the Management team also provided comments and asked for clarification from the Project Coordinator. Mr Sholola commended the team for effective financial management and control. Mr  Akuffo-Akoto  advised  the team  to ensure the sustainability of the  structures built in the project areas, whereas Dr Hillbur encouraged them to continue to have strong linkages with other institutional projects.

Female scientists win the Young Rice Scientists Award for research on consumer preferences

Two female scientists, Gaudiose Mujawamariya and Esther Leah Achandi from AfricaRice Tanzania, won the Young Rice Scientists Award at the recently concluded Fourth International Rice Congress 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand. The SARD−SC project, funded by the African Development Bank, sponsored their participation at the award ceremony.

The awards were presented to the two economists and their colleagues―Rose Fiamohe and Maimouna Ndour―in collaboration with their partners in the national agricultural research and extension systems for their work on throwing light on consumers’ preferences for rice in the urban centers of Dar es Salaam and the market participation of smallholder rice farmers in the country, using a double hurdle analysis.

Ms Gaudiose Mujawamariya and Ms Esther Achandi being honored with the Young Rice Scientists Award at the Fourth International Rice Congress 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Ms Gaudiose Mujawamariya and Ms Esther Achandi being honored with the Young Rice Scientists Award at the Fourth International Rice Congress 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Gaudiose Mujawamariya, an economist, and Esther Leah Achandi, a research assistant for the rice value chain at AfricaRice in Dar es Salaam, received the award for their work on Demystification of consumer preferences for rice in urban areas of Dar es Salaam and Market participation by smallholder rice farmers in Tanzania: a double hurdle analysis. The researchers used the “experimental auctions approach” to investigate how consumers value rice quality characteristics and assess the determinants of the “willingness-to-pay (WTP)” for alternative quality aspects of rice. “Good” rice production in terms of quantity and quality and the existence of market and road infrastructure enhance the participation of farmers in markets. http://africarice.blogspot.com/2014/05/breaking-myth-of-urban-consumers-rice.html).

Ms Mujawamariya and Ms Achandi indicated their pleasant surprise at being considered for the ‘Award’. “It has made us realize that we can contribute to the national, regional, and global rice science agenda and this has boosted our enthusiasm at work. The award has further made us realize that guidance, contributions, and support from AfricaRice colleagues are critical to teamwork and success. We are very grateful for the generous support of the SARD-SC project that has enabled us to contribute to rice research for development by offering us a platform for knowledge sharing with like-minded people and making contributions to food security through rice research. We are encouraged and looking forward to more interesting challenges and opportunities,” they said.

Project seeks to diversify cassava food recipes in Zanzibar

Peeling the cassava in readiness to make cassava pilao
Peeling the cassava in readiness to make cassava pilao

While cassava is among the most important crops in the isle of Zanzibar, Tanzania, where it is ranked second to rice, the residents consume it in very limited and not so exciting ways. It is boiled or fried with oil and eaten as a snack /breakfast or stewed in coconut milk for lunch or dinner.  This in turn limits the demand and market for the crop.

The Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARD-SC) project which is promoting the production of the crop is also working on diversifying the methods of cooking and consuming cassava, introducing more exciting recipes.

Recently, the project in collaboration with one of its partner in the isle, Zanzibar Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI), held training for farmers, processors and traders on preparing additional food recipes using cassava. These included making cakes, bans, spicy porridge and chin chin – a snack made of fried stringy cassava (sort of like fried cassava spaghetti). These were made from high quality cassava flour (HQCF) – on its own or mixed with wheat flour. They also made chicken cassava pilau in which peeled cassava that’s cut into little pieces substituted rice in this popular dish.

The SARD-SC project seeks to increase food security and improve the income and living standards of small-holder farmers in  20 African countries, including  Tanzania, by increasing the production of four important staple crops – maize, wheat, cassava and rice. It is funded by the Africa Development Bank (AfDB).

SARD-SC demonstrates improved cassava farming practices to spur production in Kigoma, Tanzania

Dr Habaye explain to the farmers the on-going agronomy trials to farmers during the field day.
Dr Habaye explaining to the farmers the on-going agronomy trials to farmers during the field day.

The Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARD-SC) project led by the International of Institute Tropical Agriculture (IITA) held a successful one-day farmers field day to demonstrate the improved cassava production technologies it was piloting to increase the crop’s productivity while at the same time conserving and maintaining soil fertility.

The event also enabled the project to get feedback from the farmers on the technologies that they preferred and which they would readily adopt to enhance productivity of cassava in the region to improve food and nutritional security and contribute to poverty reduction.

The technologies demonstrated at the event, held on 27 February 2014 at Kakonko District, Kigoma Region, in Tanzania, included intercropping and the use of fertilizers and new improved varieties.

??????????Dr Mboyi Mugendi, a Zonal Research Director at the Lake Zone Agricultural Research and Development Institute (LZARDI) hailed the technologies being piloted by the SARD-SC project saying they had the potential to increase production of cassava, one of the region’s key staple crops, and contribute to efforts to improve food security and reduce poverty in the region.

“The improved cassava farming technologies being piloted by the project have the potential to significantly boost cassava production in this region and at the same time conserve soil fertility. However, the farmers will also need further training in order to adopt the new technologies being piloted,” said Dr Mugendi.

Dr.Mboyi Mgendi from LZARD,explaining on benefit of soil measure before application of any technologies to farmers.
Dr.Mboyi Mugendi from LZARD,explaining on benefit of soil measure before application of any technologies to farmers.

He added: “There is need to create awareness among the farmers on the importance of testing their soils so they can know the deficient minerals and the best crops to grow and fertilizers to use. They also need support in the testing.”

Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) and Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) were identified as major challenges threatening production of cassava in the region. Dr Simon Jeremiah from LZARDI briefed the farmers on the two diseases, their symptoms, and the measures to take to stop their spread.

He also urged farmers to invest in the production of clean seeds and to change to the improved cassava varieties which are tolerant to the two diseases that the project will recommend from its trials.

Dr Jeremiah demonstrating symptoms of CMD and CBSD to farmers at Juma Maganga,(Cassva Mosaic and Brownstrak disease) at Kakonko district
Dr Jeremiah demonstrating symptoms of CMD and CBSD to farmers

Mr Christopher Briton Chugwa, Chairman of a farmers group in Kibondo District, said the farmers’ day was important as it exposed farmers to new technologies that had potential to increase yields to motivate them to improve their farming practices.

Miss Veronica Laurence, a farmer from Kiobela Village, said the improved varieties and farming practices being demonstrated by the project had better yields compared to the local varieties and local practices. However she added lack of financial resources was a major barrier to many farmers in adopting the new technologies.

Thanking the project on behalf of the Kakonko District Commissioner, Mrs Tausi Madebo, the Division Officer, said that the technologies demonstrated a lot of potential to boost cassava production. She encouraged farmers to form associations and work as a group to tap into the existing market opportunities for the crop in the area.

Women farmers keenly listening to the speakers during the field day

Participants at the event included farmers from Kakonko, Kiobela, and Kasanda villages, government officials, and staff from LZARD and IITA.

 The SARD-SC is a multinational project led by several CGIAR centers whose objective is to enhance food and nutrition security and contribute to reducing poverty in selected Regional Membership Countries (RMCs) in Africa. Funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), it focuses on raising the productivity and profitability of cassava, maize, rice, and wheat.

It is being implemented in Benin Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, DR Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.


SARD-SC maize project introduces problem-solving agronomic options in Ghana

In view of the low productivity of maize in Ghana, the SARD-SC maize project in April, adopted the Participatory Research and Extension Approach (PREA) on innovation platforms to foster interaction among stakeholders and problem diagnosis and in accelerating the adoption of technologies.

Participants during the community analysis in Ashanti.
Participants during the community analysis in Ashanti.

This approach has enabled the project to successfully obtain gender-disaggregated field data from 745 farmers (423 males and 322 females) from 18 communities in Ghana across three innovation platforms constituting the project area. It employed a series of workshops, field work, and community analysis strategies in identifying farmers’ production constraints, opportunities, and solutions towards improving maize productivity.

By this, the project has identified an array of possibilities capable of surmounting the constraints and counteracting the vulnerabilities being experienced by maize farmers in the production, processing, and marketing of harvests.

As a measure of remedying the situation, the SARD-SC maize project has developed community action plans to cater to policy advocacy, technology validation, and capacity building of affected farmers. Other agronomic interventions deployed to validate and disseminate improved options include the following:

• Strategic mother trials to validate improved agronomic options that address declining soil fertility, erratic rainfall, and Striga infestation in the project area;

• Demonstration of mini-kit seed drops to disseminate multiple stress tolerant/resistant maize varieties for quick adoption;

• On-farm demonstration of improved maize varieties and complementary agronomic practices; and

• Community seed production schemes to amplify the availability of improved seeds at the community level.