Cassava is a staple crop in the Niger Delta that Edo State grows in abundance, but cassava farmers have been constrained by various factors that have hampered their productivity. Our value chain field survey conducted in 2014 showed farmers were beset by low yield due to scant use of inputs like herbicides and fertilizers, and low productivity per hectare of farmland. These contributed to why farmers in the region, at their current level of production, cannot meet the demands of the 486 billion naira potential market for the valuable crop.
“The old cassava stems we used before cannot produce starch,” Patrick Masha, Chairman of the Eziafa/Ifedinma Farmers Association, tells us in a gathering with other farmers outside his compound in Ubulu Uku, Delta State. “We have invited many starch companies before to process, but none of them went with any good results.”
Without good results from their cassava, they cannot conceivably make a dent in the huge demand for their crop.
Following the research, we learned that the best way to address the challenges of cassava farming was to improve knowledge, attitudes and practices through demonstration. That is why PIND has been working with input companies like Notore and Jubaili Agrotec to expose these farmers to correct usage of inputs such as herbicides and fertilizers.
“When we were doing the demonstration plot project, the input companies provided inputs that were very good to us,” Masha tells us. “PIND introduced us to Notore and the company took us through many lectures on how to properly apply fertilizer, among other things. PIND also connected us to new cassava stem varieties. See our farms now!”
Input companies benefit from these relationships as much as farmers do, because they see it increases the market for their products. The relationship between farmers and the input companies has grown so much that, without our prompting, it has even extended to other crops.
“Notore on their own said they will do another demonstration plot project for us, but in corn this time. They also taught us to improve our farming in tomato, cucumber and watermelons. You would not know that such can be grown here, but we are planting seeds and they yield produce.”
The farmers harvest their crops from the demonstration plot in 2016, and we are excited to see the positive change in yield and profit from this year’s work, and to spread these practices to even more farmers.
Chairman, Eziafa/Ifedinma Farmers Association,
Ubulu Uku, Delta State,