Project’s ‘Cassava Day’ held with pomp in Bukavu,DRC


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.”



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