The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan in collaboration with the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI), is set to train over 30,000 farmers from Abia, Benue, Oyo, Ogun and Osun states.
ACAI Digital Extension & Advisory Services Specialist, Godwin Atser who announced this at the weekend said the training will be on the Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management and Best Planting Practices.
He said the trainings are aimed at empowering farmers with the knowledge to boost cassava and maize productivity and yield per hectare. “This will subsequently increase farmers’ incomes, better their livelihoods, and create jobs for more people,” he said, adding that the trainings are being done in close collaboration with state Agricultural Development Programs (ADPs) and other extension service providers.
To ensure a seamless and successful dissemination of the Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management and Best Planting Practices tool, he said the team has developed videos and translated same into local languages – Igbo, Yoruba, and Tiv, targeting the respective zones.
The ACAI team has also procured mini-projectors and mobile phones to empower extension service providers in the participating states.
The Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management was first developed by the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project. The tool has since integrated the best planting practices of ACAI. Farmers who use the toolkit have more than doubled their cassava yield from the national average of 9 tonnes per ha to more than 20 tonnes per ha.
“It is amazing to see how the Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management & Best Planting Practices Decision Support Tool is changing the face of cassava farmers,” Atser added.
IITA director for Development & Delivery, Dr Alfred Dixon, described the toolkit as an innovation that combines a set of agronomic recommendations and plant protection products to control weeds and increase the productivity of cassava.
Beyond Nigeria, several other countries have requested for the toolkit with ACAI team training partners in Liberia, Tanzania, Burundi, and Zambia.
Apart from the use of videos, the ACAI team has put up the recommendations from the Six Steps on Cassava Weed Management and Best Planting Practices on the 3-2-1 service of Airtel where subscribers in Nigeria can dial 3-2-1 and get information on cassava weed management and other agronomic practices free of charge up to 10 times in a month.
“The idea is to get the recommendations to thousands of farmers across Nigeria and Tanzania so they can get better yield from cassava farming,” Dr Dixon added.