Nigeria’s National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) is in talks with the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) project towards the integration of AKILIMO into government extension package in Nigeria. NAERLS is one of the 18 National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs) under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
NAERLS is responsible for development, collation, evaluation, and dissemination of proven agricultural innovations as well as research on extension methodologies and policy. As part of NAERLS core objectives to adopts the multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving, the integration of AKILIMO tools in extension services in Nigeria will ensure the sustainability of the ACAI project outputs.
ACAI project which is implemented by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has developed AKILIMO decision support tools as a suite of cassava agronomy advice that provides recommendation for various aspects agronomy to help cassava farmers optimize their production and income from growing cassava.
The advice covers tailored fertilizer recommendation for cassava, six steps to cassava weed management and the best planting practices, intercropping cassava with sweet potatoes in Tanzania and Maize in Nigeria, scheduling cassava planting and harvesting for sustainable and consistent production of cassava and optimizing the amount and quality of starch in the cassava roots.
NAERLS Assistant Director for Research, Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation Prof. Christogonus K. Daudu, met with ACAI staff including Dr Christine Kreye, Theresa Ampadu-Boakye and Thompson Ogunsanmi to discuss the modality for integrating AKILIMO into the extension package of the government through NAERLS with the involvement of Federal Department of Agricultural Extension Services (FDAES)/FMARD
Prof Daudu said the institute is interested in working with all AKILIMO use cases and recommendations. He pointed out that the recommendation for getting the optimum return on investment through intercropping cassava and maize could possibly be a starting point because of an on-going AGRA funded project in Niger and Kaduna States.
ACAI and NAERLS also discussed the need for a working group, membership to be selected from ACAI, NAERLS/FMARD and NCRI in order to review existing cassava manual and to look into how to integrate agronomy advice content from AKILIMO.
More discussion between ACAI and NAERL included the integration of AKILIMO into the national helpline and NAERLS website to complement an IVR system where farmers make direct calls; this is physically operated by resource persons in NAERLS via text messages. Discussions are on-going towards signing an MoU with NAERLS in conjunction with other government agencies such as Federal Department of Agricultural Extension Services (FDAES) in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) to facilitate collaboration on developing agronomy knowledge base and dissemination of AKILIMO tools. Long term plans include working on incorporating fertilizer recommendation and other AKILIMO recommendations in the extension agents advisory pack.