Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Comments from partners at the launch of the cassava commodity component of the SARD-SC project in DR Congo

Dr Mkamilo
Dr Geoffrey Mkamilo, from Tanzania---I am glad to hear that this project will help push technologies on the shelves to farmers.  Also the area of capacity building is very nice. I know that there will be many challenges but we have the brains to be able to achieve the milestones. Thanks to IITA and AfDB for funding this project.

Dr Phiri
Dr Samuel Phiri, from Zambia—I thank IITA and ADB for allowing us to come and participate in this commodity launch. Cassava in Zambia is important because it supports a lot of people. Agriculture in general supports 70% of the people in the rural communities, and 60 per cent on women. Zambia is focusing on improving its agriculture and as a country, we will support this project.

Dr Shambie
Dr Ibrahim Shambie, from Sierra Leone— In sierra Leone, cassava is almost taking over from rice. This is a result of the collaborative efforts between the ministry of agriculture and IITA. At the moment, cassava is being grown intensively and extensively—it is now generating jobs, creating wealth and employment for women and youth. IITA’s intervention in the cassava value chain has expanded the production of cassava in Sierra Leone. We in Sierra Leone welcome this project.  We are happy and we are thanking the AfDB and IITA for extending this program to us.

 Chief of Staff to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in DR Congo, Dr Alexis Makumyaviri – DR Congo is happy to host this meeting. I’ll like to thank AfDB and IITA for supporting DR Congo.
Drs Vanlauwe, Makumyaviri, and Manyong

Dr Yomeni giving a speech at the launch
Dr Edward Kanju— For Tanzania, we want to catch up with Nigeria in cassava production
Dr Nzola Mahungu — In DR Congo, the demand for cassava flour alone is 1000mt/day. We are yet to meet this demand.

Researchers begin activities to make cassava work for the poor

Researchers and key partners working under the Support for Agricultural Research and Development for Strategic Crops (SARD-SC) have kicked off activities to improve the productivity of cassava by at least 20 percent in project sites, increase household incomes and food security, and make the root crop work for the poor.

Researchers and partners at the launch of the cassava commodity component of SARD-SC in DR Congo on 12 Feb 2013
Four countries— DR Congo, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Zambia— are the main beneficiaries of the cassava component but the project allows neighboring countries to tap from technologies that would be generated.
 “About 500,000 farmers are to directly benefit from the crop with more than 2 million indirect beneficiaries,” said Dr Chrys Akem, Project Coordinator for the SARD-SC at the launch of the cassava component of the project today in DR Congo.
Consumed by more than 600 million people in the developing countries, cassava is now competing with crops such as maize and rice as Africa’s major staple. But the potential of the crop is still stymied by myriad challenges including pests and diseases, poor adoption of improved varieties by farmers, and low use of improved best practices. Consequently, yields across most regions from local varieties are below 10 tons per hectare as opposed to over 30 tons per hectare obtained from improved varieties.
“The SARD-SC project intends to tackle most of the bottlenecks confronting cassava by disseminating improved varieties and unlocking the power of the crop along the value chain,” Dr Akem added.
Participating countries welcomed the project saying that it would help alleviate hunger and poverty, and improve food security in Africa.
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Jean-Chrysostome Vahanwiti said cassava is a food security crop and that research to improve the fortunes of cassava was a welcome development for the country and the region.
The minister who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Dr Alexis Makumyaviri said cassava is important to DR Congo because it is the major source of calorie and protein in the country. He applauded the attention being given to women and youth in terms of wealth and job creation in the project.
Launched last year, the SARD-SC project is a 5-year, multi-CGIAR center initiative funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) that is aimed at enhancing the productivity and income derived from cassava, maize, rice, and wheat – four of the six commodities that African Heads of States, through the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program, have defined as strategic crops for Africa.
The project, which will run until 2016, will be co-implemented by three Africa-based CGIAR centers: IITA, Africa Rice Center, and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas. IITA is also the Executing Agency of the project.
Another CGIAR center – the International Food Policy Research Institute – a specialized technical agency, will support the other three centers.
Drs. Victor Manyong and Bernard Vanlauwe, IITA Hub Directors said the success of the project depended on joint efforts with partners to ensure that scientific innovations work for the poor.
They reechoed IITA’s commitment to work with partners across the continent to deliver benefits to Africa. END

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