The cassava value chain team of the SARD-SC project held a “Cassava Day’ to raise awareness about the crop among the populace of the South –Kivu Province, DR. Congo. The two day event was held at Lycee Wima, Bukavu from 28-29August 2015. The “Cassava Day,” which attracted eminent people from all walks of life in the country, was among other things, to educate the people on the many uses of cassava crops as a tool to reduce poverty; popularize the various interventions carried out by the SARD-SC project and promote and nurture interactions among the various stakeholders of the cassava value chain.
The carnival- like event had all kinds of activities such as exhibitions of various types of crops, cassava by –products, agricultural inputs, farming implements, improved seed varieties and a host of other things. Motor-cades and convoys of motorcycles paraded the streets in the suburbs and city announcing the event. Tractors were brought to the event’s site by the Project and the Ministry of Agriculture to raise the population’s awareness on the need for mechanization to ease and increase cassava production. Drama sketches were done by famous local comedians to raise awareness by echoing – with a touch of fun- important messages on “ cassava merits.”
Eminent people graced the occasion such as the country’s Minister of Agriculture, Fishery and Livestock, Mrs. Adolphine Muley, representative of the governor, representatives of universities, research institutes, state technical services and Non-governmental organizations.
The Provincial Minister of Energy, Mines and Hydrocarbons, Mr. Adabert Murhi-Mubalama, who stood in for the governor of South-Kivu, declared the event open. He said the SARD-SC project was very important in the South –Kivu province because through its processing centre, the people have become more aware of the potential income that could be generated from cassava and its products such as fufu, and Chikwange, the basic staple food of the people. “The SARD-SC project of the IITA is very important in the South-Kivu province because through its processing component, the population is aware of the potential incomes that could be generated from cassava in addition to fufu and chikwange which are commonly known as the basic staple food. We must work harder and hand in hand to fill the gaps and capitalize on the SARD-SC project achievements. We recommend all the technicians and the machinery manufacturers who have been trained by this project to disseminate their knowledge to the rest of population. We pledge to keep the pace in efforts to improve the agricultural sector, especially with regard to cassava growing,” said the Minister.
Throwing more light on the significance of the day, Dr. Marie Yomeni, the SARD-SC project Commodity Specialist, said its objective was to create awareness about the crop in order to enhance its cultivation in the country. “Cassava is a major staple food in 80 percent of households in Bukavu. However, the crop is still faced with several issues despite the number of development actors and researchers working on it. The project is therefore, committed to solve the problems affecting cassava cultivation with the ultimate goal of boosting productivity, curbing imports and reducing poverty in households managed by women farmers,” she said.
Dr. Paul Dontsop N’guezet who represented the head of IITA Kalambo station, said in consonance with IITA objective to get two million Africans out of poverty, “we are developing strategies with potentials to emancipate women from their current low financial status. So we have done a lot to promote cassava that was once threatened by Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) and Cassava Brown Streak Disease(CBSD). Cassava crop is getting healthier and providing various products and by –products for consumption and sale.”
Some of the high points of the day were: The question and answer segment open to media and guests, testimonies from partners on benefits from collaboration with the project, award of certificates to partners for sound management of project’s grants and promoting and sustaining initiatives at ensuring increased productivity. Some of the project’s partners in attendance at the event were INERA,SENASEM,IPAPEL,UEA,UCB,SARCAF and ACOSYF.
Dr. Yomeni articulates the importance of the day thus: “The event is important because it allows SARD-SC project and IITA to bring together most of the stakeholders involved in cassava related activities and to recognize the importance of this crop for the people of South-Kivu and beyond, in the DRC and across the Great Lakes Region. And it provides us the opportunity to give jobs to youth and women.”