ACAI 2020 Annual Review Meeting Highlights

ACAI 2020 Annual Review Meeting Highlights

The 2020 Annual Review and Planning for the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative was held virtually owing to the Covid 19 pandemic. Despite the unprecedented circumstance within which the event was held, the ACAI family and partners held a largely successful event.

Review meetings of this nature provide an opportunity to reflect on the activities of the project in the course of the year, the achievements, learnings and prioritize key actions points for the next year. Save for the virtual interaction, this year was no different from previous years, it showcased dissemination of AKILIMO, access to AKILIMO and the research process and finally reflections and feedback on the tools, the research and development process and the project progress. See Agenda here

Presentations

The ACAI team put together a series of presentations showing the activities, results and impact of the project for the year 2020. The presentations were organized thematically as follows;

AKILIMO in action
An overview of ACAI in 2020 by Dr Pieter Pypers, Theresa Ampadu-Boakye and Saburi Adekunbi (See presentation below)

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  1. Field trials, Crop models, Data management and tool development
    • AKILIMO has become a trademark and received considerable attention within the CGIAR and the countries where the project is working
    • AKILIMO is no longer a service but rather a platform
    • Data wizard has improved the crop models to improve the AKILIMO predictions
    • Prediction engine has significantly improved compared to what was shown last year.
    • Published all our materials in 7 languages available online
  2. Targets for impact and dissemination
    • ACAI seeks to reach 173,000 end users
    • Team is following a clear breakdown of how to reach the specific targets under each AKILIMO use case
    • Developed supporting materials, organized trainings and sensitization events with scaling partners
    • Targeting to reach more 400,000 farmers through web-based tools
  3. AKILIMO and use and uptake – key results generated from use and uptake
    • We have reached 154,293 farmers in Nigeria and Tanzania
    • Achieved a more than 30% female participation in the AKILIMO dissemination activities
    • More farmers were reached by Farmer Friendly video shows and SMS that any other method
    • 43% women have requested information from the AKILIMO tools mobile phone application version


Scaling approaches by development partners by Linda Byaba and Samson Oguntoye (see presentation below)

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  • Partners have used different approaches including demo plots and field days, sensitization events, videos, agricultural shows and media respectively
  • Multisector linkages among cassava value chain actors enhanced
  • Several new secondary partners incorporated into the project
  • Data from ACAI helps partners plan and implement their strategies effectively
  • Partners reviewed bottlenecks to dissemination and adoption and developed solutions that achieved positive results

Digital Partners Integrating AKILIMO by Gloria Akhabue, Patrick Kiao and Sally Ndung’u (See presentation below)

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  • AKILIMO content fully integrated into the 321 service in Nigeria
  • Recorded more than 50,000 calls on 321, noticed spike during the pandemic with 42% women
  • Next step for 321 is to incorporate tailored recommendation and make the content dynamic
  • Esoko developed ACAI dashboard showing data from MIS,Insyt and Kplus platforms that give precise information on farmer interaction
  • More content to be developed for consistent messaging as well as a strong partnership with media
  • High acceptance on AKILIMO by authorities and farmers
  • Majority of farmers are in areas with low internet connectivity therefore more accessible via feature phone
  • Arifu chat bot developed and customized using AKILIMO recommendation using a skip logic functionality
  • The chat bot services will be expanded to Rwanda

Scaling to next users through secondary partners and AKILIMO integration in national extension systems, presentation by Dr Thompson Ogunsanmi and Dr Freddy Baijukya (see presentation below)

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  • Bundle the use of AKILIMO in other services to be integrated into the operations of secondary partners
  • More than 22 new partners recruited and integrated in Nigeria and Tanzania to promote sustainable use of AKILIMO tools
  • ACAI through scaling fostering partner collaboration for a win – win situation and address some scaling bottlenecks
  • Reviewed existing cassava agronomy knowledge materials, integrate AKILIMO content and monitor use and
  • AKILIMO endorsed by national agricultural system in Nigeria and Tanzania
  • AKILIMO adopted into the nation extension training and dissemination in Nigeria and Tanzania

AKILIMO Decision Support platform

From Concept to platform – AKILIMO in a Timeline by Dr Pieter Pypers

https://youtu.be/pafS2djvB4k
  • 2015 – identifying partner demands and use cases and developing stepwise cocreation process to come up with version of the tool and what they would be like
  • 2016 – multilocation trials, digital data collection and results framework developed
  • 2017 – Coupling LINTUL/DSSAT and Economic Optimizer that formed the foundation for decision support tools, released the first version of the tools
  • 2018 – Validation exercises to test the DST recommendation and developed the tools formats
  • 2019 – Turned the result framework into a digital data collection and integration of partner dissemination strategies. Named the tools AKILIMO
  • 2020 – Scaling AKILIMO, training materials, moving AKILIMO beyond Cassava and quantifying use and uptake of AKILIMO

Technical validation for the AKILIMO decision support tools

Validating AKILIMO 2nd season validation exercise results Dr Pieter Pypers, Dr Guillaume Ezui, Dr Chrsitine Kreye, Dr Freddy Baijukya, Dr Stefan Hauser, Dr Meklit Chernet.

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  • Validation exercises are they are basically simple side by side comparisons or small trials where we compare our recommendations either against the control or farmers practice
  • Results from FR validation shows an overall positive response to fertilizer use especially in 2nd season after improving the models
  •  Median profit from fertilizer is $1,000 per ha when revenue increase from both sweet potato and cassava is considered
  • In Cassava maize intercrop, 80% of farmers received recommendations ranked as correct.
  • Majority of farmers who adopted tillage from BPP realized increased yield while those who reduced/didn’t till had a lower yield.
  • There has been a substantial improvement in the precision of yield measurement and generally reaching the estimated targets with AKILIMO recommendations.

Plenary presentation on learnings from the validation approach by Abubakar Mzanda and Ademola Adebiyi

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  • Validation trials were organized and established by development partners
  • NARS partners helped with quality assurance and providing extra data
  • Incentivised extension agents to collect quality date frequently
  • Provided training for training of trainers and extension agents for improved data collection and trial plot monitoring

Way Forward for ACAI and AKILIMO

ACAI and EiA 2030 Sustaining the use of AKILIMO by Dr Pieter Pypers and Dr Bernard Vanlauwe

  • EiA is not a continuation of the ACAI project but rather a sustainability opportunity for AKILIMO
  • EiA is about being relevant and doing agronomy at scale.
  • EiA focusing on yield increase, resource use efficiency, yield stability and improved soil health
  • AKILIMO inspires the development of new solutions with digital agricultural community
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Student Poster Sessions

To view student posters and comments click here

Discussions and feedback sessions from the ACAI ARM to follow soon, stay connected to the ACAI and AKILIMO webpages and social for more updates