The former President of Zanzibar Amani Abeid Karume praised the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) project for its efforts to disseminate and promote good agricultural practices that improve cassava production on the island. The former president said this when he visited the ACAI booth during Zanzibar’s 57th Mapinduzi Trade Fair and Exhibition held in January at Maisara grounds in Zanzibar City.
President Karume commended the ACAI team for bringing technologies to Zanzibari cassava growers noting the importance of the crop for the local community. He asked ACAI to scale up AKILIMO tools to more farmers and extension service providers to help improve the development of the cassava crop value chain.
“It is our goal to see many farmers benefit from higher yields. I will be very happy if you continue to deliver these technologies to more farmers to ensure that they have a good understanding of the good farming practices that will help them to get a good harvest” Karume said.
The Mapinduzi Trade Fair and Exhibition is an annual anniversary celebration of the revolution for the independence of Zanzibar. The trade fair is organized under the Tanzania Trade Development Authority (Tan Trade), to promote different industrial and agricultural products from Zanzibar, mainland Tanzania and International exhibitors.
ACAI participated in the exhibition to create awareness about the AKILIMO agronomy advice tools for cassava farming. About 750 visitors visited the ACAI booth during the trade fair with many showing keen interest in understanding AKILIMO recommendations and the various formats of accessing AKILIMO especially the mobile app.
Among the use case recommendations, AKILIMO has been calibrated to give advice on intercropping cassava and sweet potato. This use case was particularly developed for Zanzibar and was well received by visitors to the trade fair.
Other state officials who visited the ACAI booth were the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, former Vice President of Zanzibar Seif Ali Iddi, and the minister of agriculture Dr Soud Hassan Nahoda.
AKILIMO is an all-in-one agronomic advisory service to support cassava growers with knowledge and recommendations to intensify their cassava-based cropping systems. The name AKILIMO is derived from two Swahili words (Akili meaning Smart) and (Kilimo meaning Agriculture. The AKILIMO agronomy advice tool has been developed to provide site-specific recommendations for fertilizer application, intercropping cassava and other crops, scheduled planting to produce high starch content, and weed control using the best agronomic practices.
ACAI is a five-year project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aiming to increase the availability of appropriate and affordable technologies to sustainably improve short and long-term agricultural productivity in cassava in Nigeria and Tanzania and later in DR Congo, Ghana, and Uganda. IITA is working in partnership with Zanzibar Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI) and Farm Concern International (FCI), whereas ZARI is leading the implementation of ACAI activities in Zanzibar.