"With this program, I have now seen the possibility of purposeful leadership in the Niger Delta in particular and Nigeria in general [...]
Nigeria is the largest cassava producer in the world, averaging an annual production of about 35 million metric tons over the last five years. About one-third of the total national output comes from the Niger Delta region where cassava production, processing, and marketing are widespread activities involving small, medium and large-scale producers and processors. Over 80% of the rural poor in this region depend on cassava as a main source of food, income, and employment. Cassava therefore has tremendous potential to improve the lives of low-income, rural farmers, processors, and their families and increase food security within the region.
PIND conducted a value chain analysis of the cassava sector in the Niger Delta region which identified a number of systemic constraints inhibiting growth in the sector. These constraints ranged from weak linkages between market actors which delay harvested cassava from reaching processors within an adequate time before spoiling to insufficient input supply and weak cassava farm extension services. Lack of farmers’ access to credit for operating and expanding enterprises, low efficiency of cassava processing equipment and lack of commercial orientation of farmers and processors were also identified as inhibiting factors. To address these systemic constraints and develop a more competitive and sustainable cassava value chain, PIND initiated the Cassava Value Chain Project.
Through our Cassava Value Chain Project we are helping to:
- Improve coordination between value chain actors to increase the supply of cassava from farmers to processors. This will ensure the right raw material is delivered to processing plants in the most efficient and cost effective manner.
- Strengthen the capacity of cassava processors so they can improve production and productivity.
- Promote the use of improved, high yielding, disease-resistant cassava varieties and the use of good agronomic practices by enabling better extension services for farmers and improving the capacity of nurseries to provide consistent cassava varieties aligned with the types desired by processing companies and end market users.
- Increase the capacity of processors to increase production, specifically for High-Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF)
- Strengthen advocacy bodies to create a more conducive regulatory environment for growth in the sector.
Identifying Challenges Using a Research-Led Approach
Our work in addressing constraints in agricultural value chains is dependent on research, and cassava is no different. Based off our 2014 Cassava Field Survey, we realized that anything we do in cassava must address the following challenges:
- Improving the coordination between value chain actors to increase the supply of cassava from farmers to processors. This will ensure the right raw material is delivered to processing plants in the most efficient and cost effective manner.
- Strengthening the capacity of cassava processors so they can improve production and productivity
- Promoting the use of improved high yielding, disease resistant cassava varieties, good agronomic practices by enabling better extension services for famers, and improving the capacity of nurseries to provide consistent cassava varieties aligned with the types desired by processing companies and end market users
- Increasing the capacity of processors to increase production
- Strengthening advocacy bodies to create a more conducive regulatory environment for growth in the sector.
- Expanding Support Market:
Following our work with them, agricultural input companies like Notore, Jubaili, and Harvest Field have successfully adopted the use of training and demonstration as part of their promotion strategy. This is strengthening relationships with farmer groups. Under our demonstration pilot project to improve cassava farmers’ practices, these companies led a series of training sessions at their own cost to train the farmers on best practices on land selection, land preparation, cassava variety selection, planting materials selection/handling and planting methods, herbicides application and weed management, disease and pest control, fertilizer types and application. These companies understand that a strong relationship with farmers is good for their business and that improving farmers’ profitability means more sales of inputs.
“We have existed as a group for the past 6 years before we came in contact with PIND, but we’ve not had this kind of opportunities before now. PIND connected us to new varieties and you can see our farms now! With the contacts to the input companies from PIND, the fertilizer gets to us on time and the herbicides too. The price is also cheaper than before. They also taught us to improve our farming in tomato, cucumber, and watermelon. We learned that we cannot rely on only one produce. We are very grateful to PIND”.
Patrick Masha, Chairman, Eziafa/Ifedinma
Farmers’ Association in Ubulu Uku, Delta State
- Our Demonstration Plot Intervention Strengthens Value Chain Links and Improves Viability of Cassava
Following the survey, we designed a demonstration plot intervention where farmers are trained on correct usage of inputs like fertilizer and herbicides while strengthening value chain links with agro-input companies. We also linked farmers to improved cassava stems, and show them techniques to improve their productivity. We started small, initially targeting 200 farmers from Ubulu Uku Cassava Farmers Association in Delta State, and partnered with agro-input companies Notore, Jubaili and HarvestField. By the end of 2016, 2,511 farmers had improved their practices as a result of the demonstration plot intervention. These farmers also increased their yield from 8.5tons/ha to 19tons/ha resulting in over 125% increase in income. The linkages between the farmers from Ubulu Uku and the agro-input companies also worked very well; in addition to improving their farming practices in cassava, the farmers were able to negotiate for demonstrations to improve their practices in other crops. This intervention is still ongoing. Three more input companies (Candel, Indorama and Springfield Agro) have since joined the Notore and Harvestfield, and these input companies have set up 20 demonstration farms in Abia, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Edo, Imo and Ondo states, reaching 730 farmers (Male 699; Female 231) as at June 2017.
- Influencing Federal Government Policy on Cassava
We teamed up with the Federal Government and development partners to organize the Cassava Summit on September 8, 2016, at Sheraton Hotel in Abuja. At this summit, we helped facilitate multi-stakeholder conversations that will help shape policy on the sector to make it as profitable as it can be. Present at the Summit were: farmers association, research institutions, input suppliers, banks, small-medium scale processors, large-scale industrial processors, transporters, marketers, development organizations and government ministries and departments. The Summit also helped to provide accurate data on the state of cassava industrial and food markets. After the conference, we have continued working with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, as well as international development partners like International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), UK Department for International Development’s Market Development program, among others, to make the recommendations from the conference a reality. See all conference papers, recommendations and outcomes on the Cassava Summit microsite www.cassavasummit.com
- Successful Demonstration Plot Pilot Project
With our demonstration pilot project, we shared best practices in cassava farming with 200 farmers and also spread awareness among the members of the farmers’ association on cultivating cassava varieties with high starch content with demonstrations using the cassava starch testing kit. Many cassava farmers have adopted these best practices and now request for high yielding cassava varieties with high starch content. Consequently, we have recorded a great improvement in productivity and income in the Niger Delta Region. We are now working to spread these practices among even more farmers.
Download the Cassava Value Chain Project factsheet Cassava Pilot Project Factsheet-1.pdf (118 downloads)
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