The IITA led African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) project has set the 2018 calendar of activities around running validation trails for the six decision support tools that the project is developing. The first validation trails being set up in late March through April in Nigeria with similar plans organised in Tanzania from mid-year until when the planting season peaks in late 2018.
Details of the 2018 plans were discussed in a series of meetings held in Nairobi, Kenya by the joint management team and later on in Ibadan by the Nigerian project activities coordinators together with partners.
ACAI has developed the prototypes of the six decision support tools that will tested during the validation to ascertain and their functionalities and improve on their prediction and recommendation accuracy.
“We are keen on the feedback from the field to understand how users interact with the tool, about the features of the tools, interface and what else that is need. We shall then incorporate the feedback toward improving the tools.” States Pieter Pypers, the ACAI project leader.
The validation of the tools brings to the fore the project primary partners around whose needs the tools have been modelled to respond to within the cassava value chain in their respective countries. ACAI is developing Site specific fertilizer recommendation and fertilizer blending recommendation tool to optimize cassava root yield, Scheduled planting recommendation tool to ensure a sustainable year-round supply of cassava to the processing industry and the Hight Starch recommendation tool for optimum starch content in the cassava roots.
Other decision tools include the intercropping recommendation tool for cassava intercropped with Maize and Sweet potatoes and the best planting practices support tool.
Speaking after the Nairobi meeting, Geoffrey Mkamilo, from who coordinates ACAI activities in Tanzania among the national systems termed the move into validation brings closer the realization of the objectives set at the beginning of the project.
“The first results and development of version one of the recommendation tools is a big step, there is still a long way to go but what we have achieved is significant within such a short time.” Explains Mkamilo
The same sentiments are shared by Adeyemi Olojede, ACAI activities coordinator in South East Nigeria, who added that the ACAI primary partners will now play a more increased role in testing the tools first hand.
The validation exercises will be the first time that end users practically apply the decision support tools within their local areas of operation. In Nigeria ACAI is working with PSALTRY limited, CAVA-II, 2SCALE, NOTORE, NIJI Farms and SG200 spread across 8 states in the southern region of the country. In Tanzania, Minjingu, FJS, CAVA-II, MEDA and Farm Concern International.