“The whole purpose of annual reviews is to keep you abreast whether or not you are fulfilling the requirements of the tenure,” so said Norman Finkelstein, American Political Scientist. For this reason, the SARD-SC project of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, held a three- day Cassava Value Chain Review and Planning meeting, from 20th – 24th October, 2014, in Bagamoyo, Tanzania, to review project achievements in 2014; Develop work plans, budget and Procurement plans for 2015, and discuss other pertinent issues.
While welcoming participants from all SARD-SC cassava value chain countries as well as partners from NARS and other stakeholders, Dr. Chrys Akem, the project coordinator spoke on some project issues such as the baseline survey conducted by IFPRI in Zambia which seemed to be a duplication of effort. Throwing more light on the issue, he affirmed that the information captured earlier was insufficient, hence the need for a supplementary survey to fill the gaps. He proposed Innovation Platform training for the cassava value
chain implementation team so as to have a common understanding of how IPs should be run.
Among some of the recommendations Dr. Akem made to the cassava team, was the need to focus on areas of their work which can bring about tangible results, such as processing and infrastructural development and fabrication of processing equipment. He shared areas of impact from other project value chains such as nutrient management, machine prototypes, and infrastructural development such as the construction of a training center in Senegal by AfricaRice. He also highlighted the wheat value chain achievements with the release of a number of high yielding wheat cultivars in different wheat hubs. He encouraged the engagement of youth groups in Innovation Platforms activities, especially those that could result in quick impact for the project.
The various cassava value chain team members, led by the Commodity specialist, Dr. Marie Yomeni, made presentations which were followed by both group and open floor discussions to review achievements of the cassava value chain for the year 2014. They also developed Work plans and Budgets and Procurement plans for 2015 and reviewed cassava output indicators to be considered during project mid-term review evaluations. All these were geared towards achieving the project outputs/outcomes; so as to foster better understanding of SARD-SC cassava value chain.
The devastating impact of Cassava Brown Streak Disease(CBSD), a viral disease affecting some of the SARD-SC cassava countries was an important issue discussed at the meeting. It was agreed that there is a need to develop a strategy on how to take care of this and other cassava viral diseases, with immediate use of project resources to multiple and disseminate available resistant cassava varieties to affected areas in endemic areas in the different affected countries.
Mr. Seyi Fashokun, Project Accountant, presented a summary of uses of funds by component, and reviewed 2014 budget and expenditures by component as at 31st, August 2014. As a result of lateness of financial reports from other SARD-SC centers, it was suggested that the project Accountant should consider holding regular training sessions for commodity accountants in order to bring them up to speed on AFDB financial reporting, so that they can have a common understanding of project fund management and submit reports on time.
With guidance from Dr. Issaka Amadou, the project M&E Specialist, the cassava team reviewed and revised the output and outcome indicators for cassava. He also made a presentation on Quality Assurance Tools on Project Cycle, explaining the new thinking and processes in Implementation Progress and Results Report (IPR) and the Results Logical Framework as tools to measure project outputs/outcomes. Each country is expected to quantitatively reflect their achievements so that Dr Yomeni, in collaboration with the M & E specialist, can consolidate it into one report for the cassava value chain.
The meeting was attended by country coordinators of the cassava value chain, project Field Fellows, NARS partners, other stakeholders and implementing partners from Tanzania.