Author Archives: Bola-ade

Project Maize component commences accelerated implementation of activities in Cameroon

 

The launch of an Innovation Platform recently at the Regional Office of Institute of Agricultural Research for Development IRAD, Bambui, Cameroon is yet another milestone in the implementation of the SARD-SC Maize project. When the Government of Cameroon requested to participate in the SARD-SC Project, several bottle necks were identified along the maize value chain that could be addressed using the innovation platform model. It is heartening to report months of consultations involving the Government of Cameroon, SARD-SC Project Team at IITA and key Officers of African Development Bank finally enabled the launch of the Maize Component of the Project in Cameroon. This brings to five the number of countries where the Maize Component of the SARD-SC Project is being implemented.  The Other four countries are Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Zambia.  Having implemented the project in the four countries for over three years, the lessons so far learnt are being applied in Cameroon and tailored to meet the challenges and opportunities in a manner that can rapidly raise maize productivity and incomes of targeted farmers in addition to stakeholders along the maize value chain.

 

A total of 41 participants comprising 16 females and 25 males representing 10 stakeholders- categories attended the launch of the IP. Some of the Stakeholders present included, the Ministry of Scientific Research and Development, represented by the Regional Delegate, The DG of IRAD represented by the Director of farming systems along with a handful of staff representing the Research Community, Traditional Rulers, IITA SARD-SC Project Team, North West regional authorities, farmers, NGOs, maize merchants, processors, financial institutions and input dealers.

 

P4D focus to promote mechanization through TAAT and Enable youth programs

During the recently held Partnership for delivery week, Dr. Peter Kolawole, Postharvest Specialist of SARD-SC Project (coordinator of IITA Mechanization office) presented a paper on mechanization which highlighted the current status and future plans of IITA mechanization on agriculture. One of the reasons to mechanize agricultural processes is to reduce farm drudgery by using the appropriate machines.  Dr. Kolawole‘s presentation brought to the fore the lack or poor mechanization of agricultural processes in many African countries, using a comparative analysis of the number of tractors per arable land between Asia and Africa.

Using the World Bank data of 200/100 sqm (10,000 ha) as a standard, he said Asia continent uses 146 tractors to 10,000 ha of land while  Africa makes do with 13 tractors to 10,000 ha land which is still dismayingly low. While  developed countries  are deploying advanced and sophisticated mechanize d  equipment such as drones and combined harvesters, African farmers still use crude implements such as hoes, cutlasses, machetes, a consequent of poor productivity and huge bills on food importation from abroad.  “All these crude farm implements should be warehoused in the museum. We should not use these anymore in Africa,” said Kolawole.

In the light of the innovations IITA has brought about in its quest mechanized agriculture are post- harvest tools such as improved cassava peeling technology and threshers to reduce manual peeling of cassava and threshing. But more importantly, the P4D mechanization focus in IITA, Dr Kolawole said would be as follows: To increase the number of commercially active farmers/entrepreneurs by working with BIP and youth, through TAAT and Enable programs; introducing tractor providers and tractor hiring services; To improve tractor operator’s skills through practice; To encourage the use of machines available to agriculture; To increase the number of value added farm products.

For improved mechanization of farm processes, the following plans will be undertaken:Adaptive technology: Encouraging the use of the most appropriate methods, machines and equipment.  Knowledge transfer: Creating a cadre of trained and specialized technicians, farmers and operators.Extension services: Providing farmers with the technology they need, under farmers’ terms. Communication: Promoting successes achieved to a wider audience.

To out scale proven technologies, he said IITA hubs will be regional  centers of excellence in agricultural mechanization for Africa. For efficiency, the importation and distribution of farm machinery will be basically a private-sector function as well as the establishment of adequate repair, maintenance and spare parts supply lines, and local stocks. “Mechanization unit will work to make sure that the requirements of farmers are met by providing simple design technology which will be versatile for use in different farm operations and very affordable to farmers, he said.  Hence, using appropriate tools will no doubt remove drudgery and improve farmers’ wellbeing and enhance food production.

Sudanese government continues to support SARD-SC wheat seed production

As a continuation of his support to wheat production in Sudan, His Excellency the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Mr. Ibrahim Adam Ahmed Al-Dekhairi attended a seed wheat harvest day coordinated by SARD-SC Wheat component and its local partner, the Agricultural Research Corporation, ARC Sudan at Elbasatna in the Gezira region. A total of 35 hectares of seed wheat fields, planted by farmers in the Elbasatna Innovation Platform were harvested.

A key factor to wide adoption of the newly-released high yield heat tolerant varieties is an effective seed system that makes seed available to farmers in a timely manner and at an affordable price. Seed system, combining the public sector, private and the community sector, is the most effective system and this harvest of community based seed multiplication set an enviable example.

This harvest day was also attended by His Excellency the State Minister of Agriculture in Gezira State, M.Y Ali, the Undersecretary of Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Governor of Gezira Scheme, the D.G of ARC Sudan, and more than 200 farmers and officials and was extensively covered by the media. The Federal Minister restated the commitment of the government to support the wheat production through timely provision of credit and inputs and paying a profitable price to all farmers who handed their product to Agricultural Bank of Sudan. His Excellency the State Minister of Agriculture confirmed the Ministry support to the wheat production in the Gezira Scheme, saying that his ministry had seconded more than 50 extensionists to the scheme. He also emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts of all stakeholders to reduce wheat imports and eventually become self-sufficient in wheat.

The SARD-SC Wheat Project Coordinator Dr. Solomon Assefa praised the commitment of the Sudan Government and all stakeholders towards local wheat production and added that seed harvested from the 35 hectares is a significant contribution to seed supply for next season.

The Sudan wheat seed setup for wheat seed production has been critically reviewed by a SARD-SC wheat consultant. His report recognizes the high cost of seed production that cannot be covered by a high seed selling price as is the case for hybrid crops. This implies a need for government support, especially for equipping and staffing a national seed center for the production of breeder seed and the need for devolving wheat seed production and supply to community and local institutions, with some limited government support to enable quick access by farmers. The Sudan Government has a clear price agreement of 400 pounds (USD 66) per 100 kilogram sack of wheat as a directive of the President of the Republic. In 2015 the county cut subsidies on imported wheat to boost local production.

Focus on integrated soil fertility management increases cassava yield by 60% inTanzania

The IITA/SARD-SC project’s study on Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) for productive and sustainable cassava production systems in Tanzania has yielded encouraging results. Preliminary results from the ongoing study have shown an increase of nearly 60% in cassava yield which translates to a 30 % increase in income for farmers in the coastal, eastern and western regions of Tanzania. The study is part of the Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic crops in Africa (SARD-SC) project funded by the African Development Bank.

Cassava is an important staple in Tanzania and source of income to most farmers in the cassava growing regions. The crop tolerates drought well earning the nickname “Rambo Crop” in the face of climate change and uncertain weather conditions.

However, its yield is low due to factors such as poor soil fertility, untimely planting, use of disease-prone planting materials, poor site selection, local and poor farming practices, and poor soil fertility management. The project has introduced ISFM which is a set of practices geared towards increasing productivity, sustainability and generating income for smallholders and the country as a whole. It includes the use of the appropriate varieties, efficient use of both organic and inorganic soil nutrients and good agronomic practices.

“ISFM plays a critical role in maintaining both short and long term availability of soil organic matter and nutrients which are keys for productivity. It optimizes nutrient use efficiency in  cassava  production systems for maximum gains,” said Veronica Uzokwe, SARD-SC project  agronomist  and the project’s Coordinator  in Tanzania while presenting  the  findings  at  a  seminar at IITA Tanzania.

In Tanzania farmers do not apply any fertilizers to their cassava. The study therefore looked at the response of cassava to increasing rates of N (nitrogen), P (potassium) and K (calcium) in the soils through application of NPK fertilizers.The preliminary results show a significant increase of cassava yields when farmer applied good agronomy practices and ISFM. The study was initially conducted in the cassava growing areas in Zanzibar; Kigoma, Western Tanzania; and Mkuranga, Coastal Tanzania and has now extended to the Lake zone and Southern zone.

“The study shows the great untapped potential to increase cassava through use of good varieties, applying agronomic practices, and soil fertility management practices such as use of organic and inorganic fertilizers. However, though ISFM has shown its potential to replenishing nutrients to depleted soils and maintaining soil fertility and enhancing productivity, it is not yet widely taken up by farmers. Farmers need more knowledge to use the technologies,” said Veronica.

Study results have led to a spin-off project, the Africa Cassava Agronomy Initiatives (ACAI) funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to continue investigating these technologies further. Other partners have come in to help in scaling out these technologies to more farmers. They include Cassava Adding Value for Africa (CAVA) project, MIJINGU fertilizer – a private company, Menonite Economic Development Associates, Farm Concerns International, and Agriculture Research Institutes and government agencies in Tanzania.