The Cassava Adding Value for Africa (C:AVA) project led by University of Greenwich UK has been picked as the 2014 winner of the prestigious Times Higher Education Award for International Collaboration of the Year.
University of Greenwich submitted the C:AVA project as an entry in the International Collaboration of the Year category of the Times Higher Education Awards 2014 held on Thursday at Grosvenor Hotel, London.
C:AVA project of the University of Greenwich was nominated for the award alongside University of Glasgow, Imperial College London, Northumbria University, St George’s University of London and University of Wolverhampton. C:AVA outshined the other nominees in the category and bagged the award.
Professor Andrew Westby, director of the university’s Natural Resources Institute and leader of the C:AVA project, says: “C:AVA’s success is built on long term, strong and dynamic partnerships between NRI and our partners in Africa. Together, we have developed a world-leading programme of research and innovation on root and tuber crops which is contributing to global food security.”
He further added that the award is an excellent recognition of all of the hard work and strong collaborations that have been the backbone of the C:AVA project.
Professor Tom Barnes, deputy vice-chancellor for Research & Enterprise at Greenwich, adds: “The C:AVA project is an example of the excellent work that the university’s Natural Resources Institute is doing. A particular strength of this work is the translation of the institute’s collaborative research into impacting on the lives of many poor people in sub-Saharan Africa”.
In the same vein, Joanna Newman, vice-principal (international) of King’s College London and one of the judges, said Greenwich had given a “very clear lead” to a “complex web” of international partners. “This project was very impressive for its scale, transforming the livelihoods of 90,000 subsistence farmers”, she said. “It was a truly international collaboration.”
Cassava is the most cultivated crop in Africa, however, majority of the farmers are poor. This is because the root crop is highly perishable and the locally produced cassava flour is of poor quality.
To tackle these problems, the Cassava: Adding Value for Africa (C:AVA) project developed technology to turn the root crop into an affordable product handy enough to replace imported wheat and corn, supported by further interventions along the supply chain to boost its value.
To deliver the project, Greenwich’s Natural Resources Institute partnered five universities (one each from Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi), backed by $16.7 million (£10.5 million) awarded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Few years down the lane, C:AVA has processed about 24,000 tonnes of high-quality flour, supporting 89 village processing groups and 51 small enterprises; and the annual income of about 90,000 farmers has been increased by between $310 and $370 enabling many to diversify their crops and send their children to school.
The leadership batton of C:AVA was passed to Nigeria’s Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, in 2012 . A follow-up project, C:AVA II, has been launched and funded by $18.8 million from the Gates Foundation.
CAVA II, building on the success of the first phase, is expanding the cassava value chain in target countries to accommodate industries such as brewery, livestock feed, starch, ethanol and plywood.
It is expected that after five years, C:AVA II would have facilitated systems where smallholder farmers would have sold more than two million tonnes of fresh cassava roots to targeted value chain in Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Malawi.