Copied from FoodFarmers News
African Development Bank (AfDB) led by Nigerian Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina has reiterated its readiness to intensify the use of improved technologies in the shelves of research institutes in the African continent by farmers, saying this would reduce poverty rate with Pro vitamin A cassava variety already being introduced to Benin republic farmers. This was contained in statement issued to Feed Africa group last week.
The statement noted that the poor productivity of small scale farmers in Africa has been alluded to lack of access to improved varieties of a major crops, coupled low value addition to get premium price in the global market adding that Africa’s cassava productivity per hectare is 10 tons per hectare as against 20 of the Asian countries despite being a leading staple food.
It was also stated that AfBB has to launch Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) programme as part of the bank’s feedback strategy to bring improved research technologies at the Institutes’ shelves to the reach of farmers for higher crops’ productivity.
The statement contained that the TAAT Cassava Compact, led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) with presence in 18 African countries has set out to achieve cassava intensification as a priority intervention crop area with poor productivity, low value-addition and lack of access to improved varieties as some of the key challenges facing its production in Benin Republic
Towards this, it was stated that the Coordinator TAAT cassava compact, Dr. Adebayo Abass has established partnerships with critical stakeholders in Beninese agricultural sector to achieve increase multiplication of this vitamin A cassava varieties with 25ton yield potential to fight against malnutrition and low production. The stakeholders are drawn from the government, farmer cooperatives, academic institutions and the civil society.
It was stated that Benin farmers are more familiar with white fleshed cassava than the yellow fleshed pro vitamin improved varieties with nutritionally significant concentrations of carotenoids that produce vitamin A in the human body. This is due to untested rumour that yellow cassava is not good to the body thereby making farmers not to plant it.
It was however stated that the TAAT Nigeria together with other partners in the Benin has embarked on intensive transfer of Pro vitamin A cassava varieties into the country as planting materials are already supplied to provide 200,000 cuttings through seed growers and farmers in selected villages with extensive sensitization campaign in the key villages .
Dr Elizabeth Parkes of HarvestPlus enjoined Beninese farmers to adopt the pro vitamin A cassava variety as it eliminates the problem of nutritional deficiency which afflicts almost 20% of pregnant women and about 30% of children under the age of five.
“Vitamin A deficiency results in stunting in children, predisposes them to sicknesses such as diarrhea and measles, and even premature death. In pregnant women, vitamin A deficiency results in night blindness and increases the risk of mortality but with yellow-fleshed cassava, all that will be taken care of as it is biofortified with nutritionally significant concentrations of carotenoids that produce vitamin A,” Dr Parkes said.
“I heard that you are afraid of yellow cassava or yellow garri? Would you like to taste it just as I am doing now? Yellow cassava is not only harmless but very tasty and good for the body,” she added, tasting the harvested fresh root of yellow cassava and other by-products of the variety like yellow garri, cassava flakes and crackers.
While engaging farmers and traders at the Akouègba centre in Idacha language, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Adetunji, Agricultural Transformation Specialist with TAAT harped on the guaranteed return on investment that the variety represents saying that “This set of pro-vitamin A cassava varieties have increased beta-carotene levels as well as matching agronomic characteristics as an incentive for better farmer adoption,”
‘’TAAT is about boosting the productivity of African farmers in order for Africa to feed herself through these varieties that we are distributing today you are guaranteed an increased cassava yield up to an average of 25 ton/ha,” Ms Adetunji said.
The appreciative farmers and processors across the 42 villages commended TAAT for making the yellow colour cassava variety available.