SARD-SC cassava value chain team meets to assess achievements and develop Work plans

“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.

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