Researchers and policymakers meet in Tanzania to discuss cassava agronomy

Scientists across Africa meet with policymakers in Tanzania under the auspices of the African Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) to discuss the progress made in the last two years in providing clues to the agronomy of cassava.

The meeting, holding 11-15, December, is set review the progress made by the ACAI—a project managed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture— and plan for the year ahead.

Addressing participants at the meeting, the Permanent Secretary, Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, expressed optimism that the ACAI project would provide solutions to some of the problems faced by cassava farmers in Tanzania and sub-Saharan Africa.

The Permanent Secretary was represented by Dr Geophrey Kajiru, Assistant Director, Research and Development.

The Tanzanian meeting, which is taking place in Mwanza, will also include a planning workshop for the ACAI 2018 project activities in line with the implementation strategy for year 3 of the project. The meeting is thus organized for planning and setting new goals for the 2018 activities, sharing roles, and understanding the expectations of each party represented in the project.

The event is earmarked to set pace for transitioning into the validation and the onset of dissemination stage of the Decision Support Tools (DSTs).

Dr Bernard Vanlauwe, Director for Central Africa Hub with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), said ACAI would tap into new opportunities and partnerships to ensure sustainability of the project and use of the tools developed.

Through extensive research working with development partners, ACAI has developed the initial version of the decision support tools that will be showcased at the meeting. This will provide an opportunity for the partners to examine the tools and offer feedback on how the prototype DSTs can be improved. ACAI DSTs are developed based on demand and needs identified by development partners actively engaged in cassava value chain.

ACAI’s Senior Systems Agronomist, Dr Pieter Pypers said the interaction among project partners would generate concrete ideas that would be incorporated into the development of the DSTs to make them more useful and user friendly.

“The tools we have developed must meet the needs of the development partners, that is why we are planning for the partners to have a practical feel of the tools in Mwanza and share with us their expectations of the tools,” Dr Pypers added.

Project team members are making presentations on the progress of the work under their specific roles in the project. ACAI is structured in workstreams that inform the project’s critical path through research, development, to the use and dissemination of the final project tools.

Dr Geoffrey Mkamilo, the National Coordinator for Root and Tuber Crops, Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) in Tanzania said the project had made significant gains in 2017 in research especially in meeting the high demand data in ACAI.

“The trials have performed very well, especially when you look at cassava response to fertilizer in the field, we are looking to hear about updates from other project sites,” Dr Adeyemi Olojede, ACAI coordinator at the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike said.

The project has achieved significant milestones in 2017, a trend that the core team and partners will be seeking to further in the new season.

The meeting in Tanzania has more than 60 participants representing at least 21 organizations partnering with ACAI in Nigeria and Tanzania.

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