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ACAI Donates Laptop Computers to PhD and Msc Students

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The African Cassava Agronomy Initiative donated laptop computers to four master’s students and one PhD candidate all of whom are beneficiaries of the ACAI scholarship program in partnership with The Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, FUNAAB. The five students; Thanni Bolaji, Blessing Afolake, Adebayo Emmanuel, Akinsumbo Yinka and Ologunde Hammed are pursuing their post graduate degrees at FUUNAB school of Plant Science and Crop Production. Rebecca Oiza Enesi from ACAI presented the computers to the students on behalf of ACAI, at the FUNAAB campus in Abeokuta on August 2, 2017 in the presence of Professor Felix Kolawole Salako, ACAI activities coordinator in the South West of Nigeria through FUNAAB.

Prof Salako lauded the gesture by ACAI terming it a critical logistical support that will augment student’s research work.

This is the kind of support that will inspire commitment from the students and enhance their capabilities in delivering on their results.” Prof Salako

The move is part of the ACAI partnerships with Nation Agricultural Research organizations in capacity building and promoting agronomy at scale.

acaiACAI Donates Laptop Computers to PhD and Msc Students
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Preliminary results indicate significant cassava response to fertilizer

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Cassava trial farm

First yield results of Nutrients Omission Trials (NOT) reveal significant responses to fertilizer. First data on the 34 NOT trails have been analyzed and it is now available. The average root yield increase with NPK recorded from the first yield results is 4 t/ha but varying between 0-15t/ha.

The results from 23 trials in Tanzania and 11 in Nigeria show substantial responses to fertilizer following trends similar to those observed in other crops like Maize.

The NOT trial activities observed;

  • Non-responsive fields with low control yields (less than 10t/ha)
  • Strong responses in fields with medium control yields (10-20 t/ha) and less frequently
  • High yielding fields of more than 20t/ha with low response to fertilizer

This justifies the need for targeted fertilizer application through decision support tool that provides site specific fertilizer recommendation.

These results seem to indicate that Nitrogen (N) is the most deficient nutrient followed by potassium (K). No yield increase was observed when only Phosphorous (P) and Potassium was added. Application of Potassium results in site specific responses only.

Harvest for the for NOT trials is ongoing. There will be more analysis on the trail results is expected to provide extensive and conclusive data.

acaiPreliminary results indicate significant cassava response to fertilizer
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Second season of ACAI field trial set up in Tanzania register remarkable success

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For the first half of 2017, African Cassava Agronomy Initiative, ACAI, recorded remarkable field trials set up in the Southern Zone and Zanzibar project sites in Tanzania. Between January and May 2017, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, IITA, staff coordinating the ACAI project in Tanzania alongside strategic and national partners successfully set up 100 Nutrients omission trials, 100 validation trials and a total of 10 scheduled planting trials in Tanzania

In the Zanzibar zone, 102 cassava and sweet potato intercrop trials were established within the same period in collaboration with the Zanzibar Agricultural Research Institute, ZARI. This was part of the work to set up second season trials alongside the ongoing maintenance and monitoring of season one trials in the two districts in Zanzibar (Unguja and Pemba)

 

In the Southern zone, the trials were set up in accordance with the modeling of plant growth characteristics in respect to Fertilizer Recommendation use case and the Scheduled Planting use case for advising farmers to be able supply all year. Cassava crops in the trial fields within these zones have undergone weeding, fertilizer application, termite control and plant genotype assessment against cassava brown streak disease, CBSD, and cassava mosaic disease, CMD.

ACAI project trials were planted using improved and clean planting materials tolerant to both CBSD and CMD. The disease tolerant varieties planted are the Mkombozi variety planted in the lake zone, Kiroba in the southern and eastern zone and the Kizimbani variety in Zanzibar.

In Zanzibar, a total of 71 farmers and groups were selected by FCI in Unguja and 31 more in Pemba for the trials. Commercial Village Trained Farmers CVTF, is working in close collaboration with ZARI, and IITA to run the trials. Field staff and extension agents from both zones successfully finalized soil sampling and packing to send for analysis.The soil samples will be analyzed for wet chemistry at the analytical soil laboratory in Dar-es-Salaam. Dry Chemistry alongside other non-destructive above the ground measurements will be carried out by the African Soil Information System, AfSIS, an ACAI partner in Arusha.

According to the official report from the project teams in the two zones, the trials registered an impressive sprouting percentage and the trail maintenance activities were on schedule. The highlight of the field trial activities in Tanzania has been the active participation of partners on the ground including ARI, FCI and government extension agents. In April, ACAI’s Agronomist Dr. Veronica NE Uzokwe and Jeremiah Kabissa led trainings on harvesting procedures and on site starch determination procedures in readiness for the harvest of the first season trials.

The project team has scheduled more trainings for CVTF and government extension agents in monitoring and maintenance of the trials as well data collection in all project sites in Tanzania.

acaiSecond season of ACAI field trial set up in Tanzania register remarkable success
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Seeking To Understand Cassava Response to Fertilizer in Different Agro-Ecological Zones; Joy Adiele, PhD candidate

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Joy Adiele is a PhD candidate at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. She is one of the pioneer students receiving operational support from ACAI project to facilitate her field research activities. Joy’s PhD research is focused on understanding the potential yield of cassava and the dynamic aspects of nutrient limitations in relation to water availability. This will provide insight and theoretical understanding of the crop’s responses to fertilizers in a wide range of agro-ecological zones. Joy’s research is directly tied to the Fertilizer recommendation and Fertilizer blending use cases under the ACAI project.

Her research activities include cassava trials spread through three different agro-ecological zones in Nigeria; the rain forest region, the transitional savanna and the guinea savanna. The rainfall amount varies within these regions, with the rain-forest recording the most rains and the least with guinea savanna. These trials are set up on farmers’ fields to estimate both the nutrient uptake of the crop and response of cassava at the different nutrient application levels, in respect to ACAI protocols and other fertilizer trials that address questions on her PhD research.

Over the past two years, Joy has overseen establishment and management of 30 on-farm trials in Edo state including three on-farm researcher managed cassava trials in Edo, Benue and Cross River States with the support of NRCRI in Umudike.

The extensive research is looking at factors that play a role in determining light and nutrient use efficiency of cassava, relative growth and death rate of the leaves, rate of development, and partitioning fractions. In addition, the work will help understand the dynamics of soil nutrient availability and uptake by cassava, in order to provide the right dose of fertilizer at the right time and increase the recovery rate so that optimal LAI will be obtained early during the crop’s growth period.

At the top of the agenda for this research however is the embedded ACAI objective to bridge the cassava yield gap based on knowledge generated from research trials and results.

acaiSeeking To Understand Cassava Response to Fertilizer in Different Agro-Ecological Zones; Joy Adiele, PhD candidate
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Soil sampling laboratory and equipment training for IITA-ACAI partners

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The African Cassava Agronomy Initiative, ACAI, conducted a training workshop on Laboratory and Equipment Use in Soil and Plant Sampling, Handling, Storage and Analysis for 16 participants selected from the project’s research partners and the national agricultural research systems (NARS) in Nigeria. The participants were PhD and MSc students from the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB), National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike, and technicians from FUNAAB, NRCRI and IITA.

IITA-ACAI’s Senior Systems Agronomist, Dr. Stefan Hauser conducted the three-day event from 19 to 21 September 2017 at IITA Ibadan campus.
The training introduced participants to proper sampling procedures and handling of soil and plant samples. It emphasized the importance of recording sample mass data in the field and correct packaging before analysis. The latter being of importance to avoid contamination of samples, as it would compromise the integrity of data.

The trainees were also introduced to equipment used for plant and soil analysis, especially equipment currently in use in the IITA-ACAI project research and experimental activities.
In his remarks after the training, Dr. Hauser highlighted the need to have technicians and students well trained and equipped to take, handle, store, and prepare samples for analyses, with a keen emphasis on adhering to protocols. He noted that some students in the field do not use proper equipment and in some cases equipment used are not calibrated.
A large portion of the training was interactive with practical demonstrations addressing the specific concerns, problems and challenges technicians and students encounter in the field and in laboratories. Several specific problems were addressed with hands-on exercises and data analyses to demonstrate the errors caused by deviating from the protocol procedures.

In a feedback session, participants said their knowledge and skills in soil sampling had been significantly improved, citing the practical sessions as being particularly effective in helping them understand the processes.
For Akinsumbo Olayinka, an MSc student at FUNAAB, the training session demystified the previously complex soil sampling procedures into a task he can now handle with confidence.
“The field sessions where we actually did what we had discussed about soil sampling and harvesting as well as labelling were to me very useful because it was practical,” he said.
The workshop is part of the IITA-ACAI’s objective to build the capacity of NARS and partners in relevant skillsets that augment agronomy within host countries.

acaiSoil sampling laboratory and equipment training for IITA-ACAI partners
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ACAI In A Week: Field Monitoring

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ACAI project activities in the field went characteristically a notch higher in respect to the expected seasonal weather changes. Nigeria is transitioning into its Harmattan season while Tanzania, the October rains are expected to create excitement around planting and set up for new cropping season. 

In the Lake Zone, Tanzania, the ACAI team led by Dr. Simon Jeremiah from ARI and Habai Masunga (PhD candidate) were out on field monitoring assignments for NOT, FR, SP and Validation trials. The team carried out collection of leaf samples from trials for laboratory analysis, soil sampling, barcoding and site characterization. 

Dr Jeremiah, accompanied by Zakayo Machunde, Jonas Van Laere and Thomas Misungwi and covered a total of 70 farms in Bunda, Butiama and Serengeti.

The trials have attracted the attention of neighboring farmers because they are doing very well and unfortunately thieves as well.” Dr Simon Jeremiah

Habai, working with Robert Ngomuo and Joseph Joachim was domiciled in Biharamulo, Sengerema and Buchosa Districts and managed to work on 67 trials.

The ACAI project Lake Zone team is gearing for a speedy harvest and establishment of new trials in October and early November. 

In the South West Nigeria, Dr Busari Mutiu from FUNAAB and a team of students was on a monitoring mission to Owoowo and Elere sites in Ewekoro Local Govt, Ogun State where ACAI is running BPP, IC and NOT trials.

The team conducted data collection and non-destructive monitoring extending their trip further to Osoogun, Alayide and Okaka in Oyo State where the ACAI’s SP trials are located. Monitoring activities in the South West are still ongoing and slated to continue through to mid-October.

I noted at various locations that farmers were seriously tackling the weed problem which had been reported earlier.” Dr. Busari Mutiu

Harvesting of the 2016 SP trials in Osoogun have been scheduled to for 7th October 2017 together with several other sites located in Alayide and Ado-Awaye all within Oyo state. FUNAAB is working closely with Psaltry in the South west on some of the trials. 

ACAI project activities in the field went characteristically a notch higher in respect to the expected seasonal weather changes. Nigeria is transitioning into its Harmattan season while Tanzania, the October rains are expected to create excitement around planting and set up for new cropping season. 

In the Lake Zone, Tanzania, the ACAI team led by Dr. Simon Jeremiah from ARI and Habai Masunga (PhD candidate) were out on field monitoring assignments for NOT, FR, SP and Validation trials. The team carried out collection of leaf samples from trials for laboratory analysis, soil sampling, barcoding and site characterization. 

Dr Jeremiah, accompanied by Zakayo Machunde, Jonas Van Laere and Thomas Misungwi and covered a total of 70 farms in Bunda, Butiama and Serengeti.

The trials have attracted the attention of neighboring farmers because they are doing very well and unfortunately thieves as well.” Dr Simon Jeremiah Habai, working with Robert Ngomuo and Joseph Joachim was domiciled in Biharamulo, Sengerema and Buchosa Districts and managed to work on 67 trials.

The ACAI project Lake Zone team is gearing for a speedy harvest and establishment of new trials in October and early November. 

In the South West Nigeria, Dr Busari Mutiu from FUNAAB and a team of students was on a monitoring mission to Owoowo and Elere sites in Ewekoro Local Govt, Ogun State where ACAI is running BPP, IC and NOT trials.

The team conducted data collection and non-destructive monitoring extending their trip further to Osoogun, Alayide and Okaka in Oyo State where the ACAI’s SP trials are located. Monitoring activities in the South West are still ongoing and slated to continue through to mid-October.

I noted at various locations that farmers were seriously tackling the weed problem which had been reported earlier.” Dr. Busari Mutiu

Harvesting of the 2016 SP trials in Osoogun have been scheduled to for 7th October 2017 together with several other sites located in Alayide and Ado-Awaye all within Oyo state. FUNAAB is working closely with Psaltry in the South west on some of the trials.

acaiACAI In A Week: Field Monitoring
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Project Synergy Through Harmonized Activities

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The African Cassava Agronomy Initiative, ACAI, project implementation in close collaboration with partners gives importance to the uniformity of project activities to harmonize the processes and the progress of the project, within the ACAI team and partners.

Through regular trainings, project management meetings and synchronized data management systems, ACAI keeps all stakeholders abreast of the project critical path.

ACAI’s Open Data Kit, ODK, provides a central repository for project teams to upload, curate and access data for comparative analysis. Researchers have also developed protocols for field trial management and sample processing.

Trainings form an important component of the project’s capacity enhancement and knowledge exchange. At the research stage of ACAI, scientist from IITA have organized trainings on analysis of scientific data using R, laboratory processes, destructive and non-destructive field monitoring, soil and plant sample collection as well as trial management.

Team interaction and sharing of experiences in the ACAI project are carried on through the project management tool ASANA and open discussions.  ACAI project trails are spread across Tanzania’s Lake Zone, Southern Zone, Eastern Zone and on both Islands of the Zanzibar archipelago. In Nigeria, the project activities are in the South East and South West of the country with demonstration plots within the IITA Ibadan campus.

acaiProject Synergy Through Harmonized Activities
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ACAI Training of Trainers for Effective Herbicides Use in Cassava Farms

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The Effective and Safe Use of Herbicides in Cassava Fields training included practical demonstrations and hands on approach

IITA’s African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) conducted a training for more than 36 participants on the ‘Effective and Safe Use of Herbicides in Cassava Fields’ in Tanzania to build capacity for the participants to train farmers in handling and use herbicides perfectly on their own.

The event tailored as the Training of Trainers (ToT) was held at the Naliendele Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) in Mtwara region of Southern Tanzania on 28th September 2017.

Herbicide application kit used for demonstration during the training

The training included workshop sessions giving the context of cassava production by applying improved agronomic practices that are disseminated under the ACAI project and the Cassava Weed Management Project.

Participants also received practical lessons on the use of Knapsack sprayers, protective gear, selection of the correct equipment and mix tank calibration.

The training is one of ACAI’s capacity building objectives aimed at equipping new trainers with the background knowledge, skills and practical experience to provide cassava growers with training and technical support on herbicide use.

 

The director of research NARI, Dr Omari Mponda expressed optimism in training as a positive contribution toward raising the standards of cassava production systems.

“the use of herbicides in cassava fields, as a substitute for manual (hand hoe) weeding (will) reduce the cost of production in cassava field, saving time and of course reducing drudgery associated with manual weeding.” Dr Mponda

The training drew a collection of lead farmers, agricultural professionals and extension agents. IITA-ACAI System Agronomist in Tanzania Dr Veronica NE Uzokwe spearheaded the training in collaboration with colleagues from Cassava: Adding Value for Africa (CAVA II) an ACAI implementation partner.

acaiACAI Training of Trainers for Effective Herbicides Use in Cassava Farms
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“Africa’s pathway out of poverty” – by Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, World Food Prize Laureate Luncheon, October 20, 2017, in Des Moines, Iowa

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Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, World Food Prize Laureate

 

 

Today, I will be speaking about Africa’s pathway out of poverty. For millions of rural poor, their aspiration is that they will make it out of poverty, especially through their kids, and thereby laying the foundations of a march out of poverty for generations to come.

This is my story. My father and grandfather were farmers, and became so poor farming they had to work as part-time labourers on other people’s farms. My father told me that farming did not pay. It was through a benefactor that he made it out of the village to get the benefit of education. It was that golden opportunity, with a lot of sacrifices that gave me the benefit of an education, and today, by God’s grace given me an incredible opportunity to stand on the global stage to receive the World Food Prize.

We must invest in education across Africa, especially across rural Africa, for this is the fastest way to end inter-generational poverty.

As a Christian, the Bible always inspires me. The Bible tells of the story of the Apostle Paul, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and in a vision he heard a voice, a cry from the people of Macedonia. The voice said, “Come to Macedonia and help us.” (Acts 9:16). Paul rose up in obedience to preach the gospel and save the people. I know you all must be wondering whether you are listening to a preacher today. Of course, I am a preacher, for sure.

For like Paul, I also hear the voices rising out of rural Africa, “Come here and help us get out of poverty.” This “agriculture gospel” was first preached by Dr. Norman Borlaug, the Nobel Peace Prize-winner, who created the World Food Prize, for he heard the voices of a billion people and, through his dedicated work, delivered a green revolution across Asia that fed a billion people.

Dr. Borlaug was always a huge inspiration for me. But one moment in particular stands out in our relationship. It was in 2006, as we both walked the streets of New York on our way to the Rockefeller Foundation. He gently put his hand on my shoulder and asked, “Akin, do you play football?” I wondered why he would ask such a question, out of the blue, given that we were discussing agriculture and how to feed Africa. Unsure of what he was getting at, I politely said, yes, I play soccer. He then proceeded, now with deliberateness in his voice: “You see, in soccer, you can never believe you can win, unless you score the first goal. Akin, I want you to go out there and score goals for agriculture in Africa. Then Africa will believe it can win with agriculture.” It was such a defining moment for me.

I am proud to be a disciple of Norman Borlaug to preach the new “agriculture gospel” across Africa. The new agriculture gospel is simple: to lift millions of people out of poverty, agriculture must become a business. For in agriculture as a business lies the hope of economic prosperity for Africa.

Let me share with you my walk on this, if you may, my missionary journey to reach Africa’s rural poor and unlock the potential of agriculture in Africa.

Every time I pass through rural parts of African countries – where the agriculture engine is or should be unlocked – I see nothing but wasting potential. They sit on 65% of the uncultivated arable land left to feed the world, but can barely feed themselves. They hear of rich farmers in Europe and America and wonder why they themselves languish in poverty. Certainly life must be better than this. Why have we forgotten them?

Conventional economic growth models look down on the agricultural sector as a low value sector. So much so that, for decades, leading economists saw getting out of agriculture as the way to national prosperity. The path to prosperity was industrial development. Rising wages in the industrial sector would pull labour out of agriculture. This has led to underinvestment in agriculture, the so-called primary sector. In the race towards industrial manufacturing, countries underinvested in rural areas, embarking on urban-biased development. The dual poles were created: poor rural areas versus rich urban areas.

Extreme poverty in rural areas has turned them into zones of economic misery, but also fertile recruitment zones for militants and terrorists. The biggest development challenge today is how to create and spread hope across these battered rural lands. If we don’t, the grinding poverty in rural areas and hopelessness will cause African economies to implode.

We must create sustainable paths out of poverty in rural areas. The way to do this is to invert the economic development model: turn the rural areas from zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity. The solution lies in making agriculture a source of wealth creation in rural economies.

Think about it for a moment. A great opportunity to invest in and promote agriculture is offered by the projected rise of Africa’s food and agriculture market, which will top $1 trillion by 2030.

We must start tapping into this potential market to create wealth by strongly supporting farmers, especially millions of smallholder farmers. I have never seen any farmer that wants to be poor, and neither have I met a subsistence farmer. What I have seen, are hard-working farmers, who simply are poor because they lack access to technologies to boost their production, without access to affordable finance, unable to turn their land assets to wealth, abandoned by political leaders, and left to fend for themselves, like a boat left to drift alone at sea.

Yet, like every one of us, deep down in their hearts is an undying hope that they will leave behind a better future for their children; that their children will not have to suffer the indignities of poverty. The hope of millions of marginalized Africans is that, through a good education, their own children will escape from the traps and clutches of poverty.

The main highway out of poverty for farmers lies in having the right political leadership, one that is able to take bold decisions to unshackle millions desperately looking for help and an opportunity to create wealth.

It was this search for political leaders that’ll stand up and be counted that led me and my colleagues at the Rockefeller Foundation, to initiate the Africa Fertilizer Summit, backed by eminent global leaders, with the inspiration of then President Obasanjo of Nigeria. It was the largest effort in Africa’s history to galvanize leaders for agriculture. At the age of 92 years, Dr. Borlaug showed up in Abuja, Nigeria, calling on leaders to rise up. They did. The result was the adoption of the need for an African green revolution by 40 Heads of States and Governments. We turned back 30 years of push back on the use of fertilizers in Africa.

But we won’t get anywhere unless farmers in rural areas are able to access farm inputs. I realized that millions of farmers were unable to obtain access to improved seeds and fertilizers because rural input markets were poorly developed or absent in most cases. It was easier to find soda pop in rural Africa than farm inputs.

This led me, while at the Rockefeller Foundation, to develop and work with several partners to roll out a major program to develop agro-dealer networks, a network of rural farm input retail shops across rural Africa. And we needed several thousands of them per country to ensure no farmer travelled more than 3 kilometers’ radius to find seeds and fertilizers. Guarantee facilities were established in several African countries to improve the access of agro dealers to trade finance in order to stock up on farm inputs.

The initiative triggered a revolution, unleashing a wave of rural farm input shops run by the private sector, and successfully getting farm inputs to the doorsteps of farmers. Bill and Melinda Gates, Raj Shah (now the President of the Rockefeller Foundation) and I made a visit in 2006 to some of these agro-dealers in rural Africa. Bill became convinced the model held potential and, in the fall of the same year, he joined together with the Rockefeller Foundation, to create the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), where I served as its first Vice-President.

With over $150 million in funding to AGRA, we began to roll out these farm input shops. Today, millions of farmers can now easily gain access to farm inputs, boosting farm production, triggering rapid growth of seed and fertilizer companies. Always, I was inspired by Dr. Borlaug’s words: “Take it to the farmers.”

The fact is, we could get even greater results if farmers receive strong support from governments, just as they did when Norman Borlaug led the green revolution in Asia. I am an advocate for subsidies for farmers in Africa. Many had written off subsidies in Africa, as corruption-laden and inefficient. And they were right, but they missed the crucial point: the problem was not the subsidy, but the system that delivered them.

Back in 2004, while at Rockefeller Foundation, I helped to spearhead with other colleagues, including Pedro Sanchez, World Food Prize-winner, and Jeffery Sachs, the design of the subsidy program for Malawi, which was experiencing the worst drought in its history. Despite massive doubts, the government bought into the plan and the subsidy program was rolled out. Donors lined up, after the initial hoopla. It was a huge success. Within three months, Malawi became food self-sufficient, produced more food than it needed and exported 400,000 metric tons of maize to Zimbabwe.

A few years later, I faced a similar situation in Kenya in 2007, while working at AGRA. I noticed that 2.5 million poor farmers were food insecure and had no access to farm inputs to produce. Convinced we could solve the problem, I got a plan developed, but had to convince donors. Donors did not buy into it, due to the usual bias against subsidies. In my meetings later with the Minister of Agriculture and the Permanent Secretary of Agriculture, they bought into the program, so the “Kilimo Plus” program was launched, which successfully boosted access to farm inputs to over one million farmers nationwide.

Once again, we demonstrated that when pragmatic farmer-centric policies meet with right political leadership, and a dedicated administrator, things happen.

Technologies exist to feed Africa. The challenge is to get them into the hands of millions of farmers. That was the situation with tissue culture bananas. With huge potential to yield over 40 tons per hectare, compared to about 15 tons farmers were getting, it was stuck, as one single plantlet cost $1.50, way above the daily earnings of many farmers. A solution had to be found. With support of the Rockefeller Foundation, I was allowed to use a $500,000 grant from the Foundation to support a rural bank in Uganda to agree to lend to these farmers, as an experiment. The deal was simple: they would lend the Foundation’s funds on condition that if farmers repaid, the Bank would commit one million of its own monies the following year. It worked! Over a 4-year period, the total loss was just $4,500.

A point was demonstrated: the main reason banks don’t lend to farmers was perceived risks of loss, and not real risks. I got to know several years later the bank had lent some $20 million of its own monies. Tissue culture bananas spread rapidly across Kenya and other East African countries.

I was determined we had to tackle the challenge of banks not lending to agriculture in Africa, so I led efforts to design and scale up the de-risking of commercial banks across several African countries. Using risk-sharing facilities in Kenya, Ghana, Mozambique and Uganda, we leveraged $100 million from Africa’s largest commercial bank, Standard Bank, as well as $50 million for farmers from the Equity Bank in Kenya.

I took these lessons to scale in Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, and helped design the NIRSAL facility in Nigeria, to de-risk all commercial banks in the country to lend to the agriculture sector. We successfully set up a $350-million risk-sharing facility with the Central Bank of Nigeria, which helped to leverage $3.5 billion in lending towards the agriculture sector, with a repayment rate of 99%. Today, NIRSAL is a stand-alone non-bank financial institution. The model is being scaled up by the African Development Bank with the goal of reaching 30 countries with similar models.

But no matter what we do, unless we tackle corruption, policies will fail to impact farmers. When I became Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria, my goal was to ensure that farmers were at the centre of all public policies. I met in place a 40-year-old government-driven procurement system that was heavily corrupt. Only 11% of the fertilizers bought and sold by government ever got to farmers! Tackling this monumental level of corruption required disruptive innovation! So I turned to the power of mobile phones. Using cellphones, we digitally registered farmers and sent them vouchers directly, which they used to purchase farm inputs from the private sector. The public procurement system was dismantled within 90 days. We restored transparency, probity and accountability to public policy. A new dawn had begun for farmers.

Within four years, the electronic wallet system allowed over 15 million farmers (including 2.5 million women farmers) to purchase farm inputs and led to rapid expansion of mobile phone companies into rural areas. The percentage of farmers who received farm inputs rose to 94%, compared to 11% under the government procurement system. The impact was massive: food production rose by an additional 21 million metric tons, benefitting some 75 million people. There was joy everywhere for farmers. As one of them told me, “Our dignity was restored.”

We could not have succeeded in this without the remarkable and unwavering support by then President Goodluck Jonathan. To succeed in radical policy reforms there must be strong political backing. What we did required rocking the boat and the President stood with us all the way. So, President Jonathan, I say thank you so much for your bold support, without which we would not have achieved this success.

Today, the electronic wallet system has gone global, as far as Afghanistan where the government and the World Bank are using it to reach one million farmers this year alone. The African Development Bank is currently scaling up the electronic wallet system to 30 African countries.

We stand at a crucial moment to tap into technologies, innovations, youth populations, and a rising need to diversify African economies in order to launch our biggest effort to fully unlock the potential of African agriculture. So, we know what works; what we’ve got do is scale up these and many other successful experiences across Africa.

That’s why the African Development Bank has committed to investing $24 billion in agriculture over the next ten years. And we’ve already started with concrete investments. The African Development Bank, AGRA, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank are developing an exciting initiative – Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation, also known as TAAT – to mobilize about $1 billion to drive scaling up of agricultural technologies across Africa. Our goal is to “take technologies to the farmers.” Just like Norman Borlaug asked us to score more goals for agriculture in Africa. Our goal is to reach 150 million farmers, while building private sector value chains to create markets pull for farmers.

We will tackle the challenge of malnutrition in Africa. That’s why the African Development Bank – working with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dangote Foundation, Big Win Philanthropy and the Global Panel on Food Systems and Nutrition – has launched African Leaders for Nutrition, to help bring political accountability to address the issue of malnutrition and stunting in Africa. Our goal is to help build grey matter infrastructure in Africa and end stunting, which currently affects some 54 million children. We will focus sharply on helping to scale up bio-fortified crops across the continent to address malnutrition.

For Africa to ramp up its capacity to help contribute to feeding the world, we need urgent action on unlocking the vast potential of the African savannahs. With an estimated area of 600 million hectares, of which 400 million hectares is cultivatable, the savannahs of Africa remain the world’s largest underutilized agricultural zone. Less than 10% of the savannahs are under cultivation. Yet, the savannahs helped Brazil to dominate the global food supply in soybean, maize and dairy; and the savannahs helped northeast Thailand to become the largest exporter of rice and cassava globally. To feed Africa and put Africa in a good position to help in feeding the world, the African Development Bank is launching the Transformation of African Savannah Initiative (TASI), in partnership with Brazil, Japan, the World Bank and other partners.

We will also invest differently in infrastructure. To optimize infrastructure investments in rural areas, governments should create “staple crop and agro-allied industrial zones.” These will be special economic zones, devoted to agriculture, where heavy investments will be made in infrastructure (power, water, roads). Special tax incentives should be given to private sector agribusiness firms, and food processing industries to locate in these zones. They, in turn, will offer huge and speedier farmer access to markets; and enable farmers to process food and agriculture commodities close to zones of production; and transport processed and finished products out of the zones using enabling infrastructure and logistics. These zones will help change the face of rural Africa, from “zones of economic misery” to “zones of economic prosperity” – in exactly the same way industrial zones did for China. The African Development Bank will spearhead the establishment of these staple crop and agro-industrial processing zones.

The African Development Bank is accelerating investments to get younger commercial farmers and agribusiness entrepreneurs into agriculture. To succeed with its agriculture, Africa needs younger and educated people in the sector. They will take agriculture as a business. They will make agriculture “cool.” I fully expect the future millionaires and billionaires of Africa to come from agriculture. To spur this, the African Development Bank has launched a youth in agriculture initiative – ENABLE – to develop the next generation of agripreneurs for Africa. In 2016, we invested $800 million in this initiative for eight countries. In 2017, we will reach 15 countries. Over the next 10 years, the Bank will invest $15 billion to develop new youth agriculture entrepreneurs.

We will empower women and achieve greater access to finance for women. No bird can fly with one wing. Africa will move faster if it achieves equality for women in terms of access to land, property rights and finance. That’s why the African Development Bank has launched Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) to help mobilize $3 billion for businesses of women in Africa, the majority of whom will be in rural areas, engaged in agriculture and food businesses.

I am fully convinced that working on all these areas will help to lift millions out of poverty in Africa into wealth.

But as we do, we must pay special attention to the devastating effects of climate change, with droughts in Africa and severe floods and hurricanes buffeting many parts of the United States of America. My heart goes out to families and people in all these areas, including in the Caribbean islands. For Africa, the African Development Bank has launched $1.1 billion to support countries and to push for climate adaptation funds. We must also quickly address the rising challenge from the swarm of fall armyworms.

There are huge opportunities, and I am confident we will overcome the challenges. The World Food Prize also brings much-needed wind behind our sails as we launch out on this big push for agriculture in Africa.

And we are not alone. Others have gone before me, on whose achievements we are building new alliances and partnerships, to do more, together.

So many people helped me to get here. My lovely wife, Grace, my sons Rotimi and Segun, my parents, my wife’s parents and my entire family. My teachers from high school and University of Ife. I say thank you to my great professors, Phil Abbott, John Sanders, Gebisa Ejeta, John Axtell, John Connors, and all that gave me a world-class education at Purdue University. And I am delighted that the Dean of Agriculture, Jay Akridge and President of Purdue University, Mitchel Daniels, are here to give me the Boiler Maker support.

I say thank you to my several colleagues at the Rockefeller Foundation, including Gordon Conway, the President who hired me; and my directors and mentors, Bob Herdt, Gary Toenniessen, Joyce Moock and Peter Matlon. I say thank you to all my colleagues from the CGIAR centres from whom I learnt so much, especially those I worked with at WARDA, IITA and ICRISAT.

I say thank you to Mr. Kofi Annan and all my colleagues at AGRA, who strongly supported my work.

None of these would have been possible without the amazing support of Nigerian farmers, my able staff at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria, especially my Permanent Secretary, Mr. Echono and all the staff and colleagues who worked on the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA).

Many thanks to the farmers of Africa, from whom I learnt so much and from whom I got such inspiration.

I stood on big shoulders to get here. President Goodluck Jonathan took me as his Minister, President Olusegun Obasanjo nominated me to him to be a Minister and President Muhammadu Buhari also supported my candidacy to be President of the African Development Bank. To them, I owe immense gratitude – I say thank you.

I specially thank Ambassador Quinn – a man of impeccable honour – who has continued to inspire and encourage me; Professor Swaminathan; the World Food Prize Board, for awarding me this cherished award, and all the wonderful staff of the World Food Prize Foundation for doing an incredible job organizing this fantastic event!

Last night I had the privilege of donating my World Food Prize award of $250,000 (that is, a quarter of a million dollars) to set up a fund fully dedicated to providing grants, fellowships and financing for the youth of Africa in agriculture as a business.

Today, I am honored to announce that a portion of my World Food Prize award will be used to support the work of the World Food Prize Youth Institute–Africa.

The World Food Prize Institute–Africa will support young agripreneurs who we will call Borlaug-Adesina Fellows. This will allow us to strategically continue Dr Borlaug’s legacy of taking agricultural technologies to the farmers, and my philosophy of promoting and engaging agriculture as a business.

The Youth of Africa are the future of the continent and to them I pledge my support.

Just like Elijah in the Bible thought he was alone, until God spoke to him, and told him that there is an army of others, who feel exactly the way that he felt, so I feel today. As I look all around this hall, I feel the same passion. I sense the same determination. I see an army of partners willing and able to help score more goals for African agriculture. Together, we will. And certainly, Norman Borlaug will be delighted that the “gospel of agriculture as a business” finally helped to end poverty in Africa. In this journey and endeavour, so help us God.

Thank you very much.

acai“Africa’s pathway out of poverty” – by Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, World Food Prize Laureate Luncheon, October 20, 2017, in Des Moines, Iowa
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ACAI sets pace for the 2018 project activities in Tanzania

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Figure 1 ACAI group photo during the in-house planning meeting in Zanzibar

 

The African Cassava Agronomy Initiative team met on the 21st and 22nd of June in Zanzibar to review the second season results and plan for the project’s third season activities that will be undertaken during the 2017-2018 season in Tanzania.

The ACAI in-house planning meeting organized by Dr. Veronica NE Uzokwe of ACAI Tanzania included a series of presentations by the ACAI project leadership and ACAI implementing partners. The presentations highlighted the progress that the project has made as well as the challenges that faced.

Mrs Bernadetha Kimata, agronomist / plant breeder at ARI-Naliendele and leading the implementation of ACAI activities in the Southern Zone, highlighted good collaboration with MEDA and CAVA-II that has led to successful site selection and establishment of over 200 trials across use cases carried out in the zone.

Figure 2 ACAI project coordinator Dr. Abdulai Jalloh, in a discussion with James Watiti, from the African Soil Health Consortium during the Zanzibar In-house planning meeting

ACAI is carrying out field trials for the project use cases in four zones in Tanzania; Lake Zone, Southern Zone, Eastern Zone and Zanzibar. Laurent Aswile, ACAI Site Representative from the Eastern Zone, reported that farmers in the region had started adopting ridging in their cassava farm, learning from their peers who are participating in the ACAI trials.

ACAI project coordinator, Dr. Abdulai Jalloh gave an in-depth illustration of the project critical path, pointing out milestones that the project has collectively achieved based on the project work streams. Dr. Abdulai pointed out that the project was on course with data parameterization and modelling framework for Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT) and Quantitative Evaluation of the Fertility of Tropical Soils (QUEFTS) models.

Figure 3 Barcode tag at a cassava trial farm in Zanzibar

 

Key issues discussed and agreed upon included modalities that will guide data collection in field trials, guidelines for the baseline survey, communication and weed management. The project will launch a Shiny App in September 2017 that will be used to track progress against milestones.

Extended sessions also had participants discuss and formulate action points to enable capitalization on the information gathered by extension workers, and the development of the framework and interface of the decision support tools. ACAI has facilitated installation of over 60 rain gauges across the project zones for collecting rain data that will provide vital data for the development of the decision support tools.

Figure 4 Dr. Pieter Pypers ACAI senior Agronomist and Dr. Veronica NE Uzokwe, ACAI coordinator in Tanzania during a field visit in Zanzibar

 

The meeting brought together ACAI’s primary research and strategic partners, national research organizations as well as implementing partners at national level with representation from ZARI, ARI, FCI, FJS, CAVA-II, MEDA, Minjingu fertilizers, CABI, AfSIS, DAICO and eSOKO.

Participants at the meeting were taken for a site visit to the on-station trial farm at the ZARI research station and to two farmers’ fields within Unguja, Zanzibar.

acaiACAI sets pace for the 2018 project activities in Tanzania
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