The African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) project has stepped up efforts in cultivating and fostering the right partnerships in its cardinal aim of reducing the cassava yield gap in Africa.
The ACAI project team from inception realized the importance of partnerships, and is sparing no effort in ensuring effective collaboration among partners from the experimental phase to the development, and use of the tools that will support appropriate management of cassava to realize the crop’s fullest potential on farmers’ fields.
The project has engaged key actors in Nigeria and Tanzania ranging from farmers, researchers, extension services, development workers, processors as well as input dealers notably fertilizer manufacturing companies.
Dr Abdulai Jalloh, ACAI Project Coordinator , said the main aim is to establish contact among relevant actors for considerations for learning and information sharing that will benefit the participating partners associated with ACAI.
The Africa Soil Health Consortium in collaboration with the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) (partners under ACAI) is leading the engagement of key stakeholders in target countries as the project establishes cassava clusters.
Dr Jalloh noted that even though the entry point of ACAI is to address yield gap, it is imperative for strategic considerations of the cassava value chain and inclusiveness of all concerned.
According to him, ACAI is conscious of the mistakes of past interventions where bottlenecks were considered in isolation irrespective of other existing ones and even those that could occur as a result of concentrating on only one aspect.
He emphasized that ACAI would direct efforts towards reducing the yield gap, which would eventually increase cassava production while ensuring impacts along the value chain with a view to having a sustainable improvement in cassava production, processing, and utilization, and impact on overall economic development of individuals, communities, and countries.
Mr James Watiti of CABI, who is leading the establishment of cassava value chain clusters, emphasized that it was very crucial to bring all stakeholders together and hold a meaningful conversation in an open manner.
He stressed that as long as there is candid conversation among partners, issues and challenges can be addressed and synergies capitalized on.
The African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) project is a five-year project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The project is led by IITA and it seeks to increase the availability of appropriate and affordable technologies to sustainably improve short- and long-term agricultural productivity of cassava.