By Adeola Oladele, Ibadan
Ahead of the international conference on cassava to be held in Cotonou on June 11-15, 2018, the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21), has called on policy makers, donors and the international community to support all efforts that would bring about cassava transformation in Africa.
According to a press statement made available to WESTERNPOST at the weekend, the call was coming at a time when cassava is becoming central to food security of over 600 million people in the developing world and has become the fourth most important crop after maize, wheat and rice.
While presenting the upcoming conference on cassava to donors and the international community in Cotonou, the Director of GCP21, Dr. Claude Fauquet, said: “despite the key role cassava is playing in Africa’s food security, its productivity had remained low (about 9 tons per hectare), keeping the growers in the trap of poverty.”
“When compared to Asia, cassava productivity in that continent is more than 21 tons per ha—a situation that gives Asia competitive advantage in global cassava trade. Addressing the yield gap demands more funding for cassava research and development (R&D) from all stakeholders, if truly the world wants to help farmers towards ending hunger and poverty in Africa.”
Dr. Fauquet noted that the 11-15 June, 2018 conference to be held in Cotonou with the theme: “Cassava Transformation in Africa,” is one of the ways the GCP21 is contributing towards the transformation of the root crop.
He, however, called for participation of all stakeholders, emphasising that the conference would provide a unique opportunity for donors, investors and policy makers to see and access the latest innovations and discoveries in the cassava sector.
The French Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, Veronique Brumeaux, who hosted the press conference said the conference was timely and would go a long way to address the constraints of cassava production while at the same time, proffering opportunities for investors and farmers alike to harness new innovations from the research community.
Meanwhile, this year’s conference is being organised by GCP21, in collaboration with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), National Institute of Agricultural Research of Benin (INRAB), Faculte des Sciences Agronomique – Universite Abomey-Calavi (FAS-AUC).
Other supporting institutions are: The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Development Bank (AfDB); Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research (WECARD), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), International Center for Agricultural Development (CIRAD), and the Institute for Research & Development (IRD).