GIZ and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) launched the Cassava and Maize Value Chain Project on Tuesday March 9, 2021 at an event that attracted the commissioners of agriculture from Oyo, Ogun and Kaduna states. The same project is set to be launched in four states in Nigeria, namely, Kaduna, Kano, Ogun, and Oyo States. The project is designed to address major concerns of low yield, effects of climate change, and a focus on young people and women.
The project focuses on three key pillars: Integrated Pest Management and Combating Fall Army Worm (FAW), Food Safety and Pre and Post-harvest Management and Establishing Cassava Seed Systems.
For the first pillar, the project will focus on principles and practices of pest management, especially on tackling the presence of the invasive arthropod pest called Fall Army Worm (FAW). According to research by IITA experts, FAW infect more than 80 plant species including maize, rice, and millet, with maize as its most preferred plant. Loses of approximately 100% have been recorded by farmers in Nigeria. Overall cost of losses equals approximately $13,383.
To manage the outbreak of FAW, the approaches are to advocate for an integration of various management strategies, such as surveillance and early warning, the use of pesticides, and the use of technology. Trainings for all stakeholders will also be conducted to increase sensitization to the effects of FAW and how to combat it. The trainings will begin in Kano and Kaduna. The target is to train 100 extension agents from Kaduna and 100 from Kano, with 4000 farmers engaged via stepdown training. In addition, at least 50 youths will be trained as FAW control services providers.
The project also focuses on catalyzing the adoption of food safety and pre- and post-harvest management practices in maize. A key challenge faced in this area is mycotoxin contamination, including aflatoxins. These cause liver cancer, associated with reduced immunity, stunted growth in children, and negative effects on income. Also, there is the effect of insect damage and reduced shelf-life post-harvest as a result of improper storage. Awareness creation will take place for all stakeholders involved, reduction in dietary exposure to aflatoxins through the value chain, biocontrol, and Post-harvest crop management (PICS). When this takes place, there will be an improvement in grain quality. As participation from women is low during trainings, awareness will be created to increase participation from women and youths.
Specific targets include training of 20 agro dealers, 40 young people, 40 farm leaders, and 400 women. Trainings will focus on Aflasafe, PICS bags, and marketing of agricultural innovations.
On establishing seed systems, farmers would be sensitized on the use of Cassava Seed Tracker and AKILIMO, digital tools for the crop.
The process of establishing these systems would also include identifying and screening four foundation seed producers in Ogun and Oyo States. 50 commercial seed entrepreneurs will also be screened, and the initiative will help them set up their farms. Third part seed certifiers will also be registered and certified by the National Agricultural Seed Council.
Speaking during the launch, the Commissioner for Agriculture Ogun State, Adeola, Odedina, said that Ogun state has no option B but to engage with this initiative. Odedina revealed that about 250,000 people are into maize and cassava and to encourage more young people to engage in agriculture, productivity is key. Representatives of the other key states also showed their support for the initiative.