ACAI project in Tanzania hosted project partners in Dar es Salaam for the 2019 – 2020 season planning meeting in preparation for dissemination and scaling of the project decision support tools. Participants representing development organizations, industrial processors and farm input producers reaffirmed their commitment to fulfilling their roles in the project and achieve the ACAI collective objectives.
Top on the Agenda of the meeting was the onset of the grassroots events and promotion activities for the ACAI tools as the project transitions from research and development into facilitating the use and adoption of the DSTs.
Partners presented their strategies for dissemination of the DSTs within their respective domains outlining objectives, targeted audience and corresponding numbers of farmers to be reached. The dissemination strategies we jointly discussed specific aspects harmonized for support and coordination between IITA and the partners.
Speaking after the meeting, ACAI East African project coordinator Dr Veronica Uzokwe was enthusiastic of the commitment from partners terming it significant for sustainability of the project.
“We are looking at how the tools will be sustained locally through these partners and the national research systems. The partners have confirmed to us that we are on the right track for the sustainability of this project.” Said Dr Uzokwe
In the 2019/20 season of the project calendar, ACAI will shift its focus to activities that create awareness and influence farmers as well secondary partners to adopt the technology developed for the last four years of research and development. Partners at the meeting have been an integral part of the development process of the DST.
Stephen Magige, Project Manager for the Best Cassava Project by MEDA, said the partnership with ACAI has grown over the course the collaboration between the two projects as a result of the shared objectives as well as the ingenuity of the solutions that ACAI is working on.
“Every time we meet like this, there is always something new, the project is making big steps at an incredible pace. We are happy and grateful for this partnership.” Said Mr Magige.
ACAI project leader Dr Pieter Pypers led discussions on the continued data for DST evaluation as an important part of the partner responsibility to help improve the accuracy of the recommendation as well as monitoring the progress of the project in general.
The three-day meeting included a review of the progress made in the 2018/19 season activities with highlights on the lessons learnt during the period. In the 2018/19 season, ACAI in collaboration with the partners, ran validation trials to test and improve recommendations given by the DST.
IITA director for East Africa Dr Victor Manyong joined the ACAI team during the opening session of the meeting. Dr Manyong applauded ACAI project and partners for the achievements made over the course of the four years that the project has been running.
ACAI in Tanzania is working with International Research organizations including CIAT, ICRAF, IPNI and CABI to implement strategic research activities, soil and plant analysis and crop modelling. Tanzania and Zanzibar Agricultural Research Institute (TARI/ZARI) is implementing field research and strategic contributions toward decision support tool development. Development and Scaling partner identified the most pressing needs within the cassava value chain that ACAI is working to address through the Akilimo DST. These partners include Minjingu Fertilizer, FJS Africa Starch, Tanzania Food and Nutrition Center (TFNC), Farm Concern International (FCI). Yara fertilizer company and Uwamima farmers association have joined ACAI as secondary partners.