Food Security & Agriculture
Africare Technical Capacity:
Cassava is a staple crop in many sub-Saharan African countries. Africare is training farmers in improved cassava production techniques. In addition, Africare staff and extension agents are promoting labor saving technologies, soil conservation, sustainable water management techniques, improved post-harvest handling and storage to reduce losses and other improved technologies that are increasing farmers’ yields and helping them attain improved food security for their families and communities
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Africare has worked in a number of countries across Africa to improve productivity and value addition in cassava. For example, in South Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Africare is promoting drought and disease resistant varieties of cassava, and encouraging the adoption of the high-yielding sawa sawa variety of cassava, which is resistant to African Cassava Mosaic Virus (ACMV) and green acarids.The program has distributed 245,125 improved cuttings to Farmer Field Schools, individual beneficiaries and seed producers since 2009. Africare has directly trained over 6,255 farmers in cassava production and many more have been reached indirectly since Africare’s lead farmer scheme encourages farmers trained by the organization to train others. Other farmers who are not participating in the program apply the improved techniques on their own by observing their fellow beneficiaries.
Based on preliminary data, Africare expects that over 65% of beneficiaries in the DRC program area of 15 villages will have adopted at least four technologies (e.g., lining, spacing, weeding, and composting) by the end of FY10 and that as many as 25% of indirect beneficiaries will have adopted these same technologies as well. The introduction of these improved techniques has had lasting, community-wide impact, improving livelihoods and income. Prior to the introduction of new improved technologies, farmers were receiving yields of cassava at a rate of 12 tons/ha. Yields with the improved husbandry package have averaged between 15-17 tons/ha.
In Sierra Leone, Africare has trained 103 farmer groups/associations in improved productivity enhancement technologies, value addition and marketing. This has improved cassava yields, product shelf-life and incomes of 2,910 farmers in Kailahun District. An estimated 312 acres of cassava production have been harvested over the three years by the targeted farmer groups with an increased average yield of 1.25 tons/ha. Farmer associations organized by Africare sell the cassava products to local markets without formal contractual arrangement but plan to establish formal contracts as their production and processing volumes increase.
In Zimbabwe, Africare staff trained 4,000 lead farmers in agronomy, processing and marketing. They, in turn, have trained an average of 100 other farmers per month. The monitoring and evaluation mechanisms Africare has in place confirm that farmers are adopting improved cassava practices. In Liberia Africare staff helped develop a training manual on cassava production.
Africare aggressively promotes the development of strong partnerships with governments to target communities for improved extension services. In Zambia, Africare is working with government departments such as the Forest Department, Seed Control and Certification Institute (SCCI), Fisheries Department and Research and Field Services in MACO. Government staff assisted in identification, planning and in providing guidance as well as in monitoring of Africare's projects. Extension staff from the Government of DRC’s Provincial Agriculture, Fishing, and Livestock Inspection Agency is directly involved in training activities as well as the monitoring and evaluation of program activities and results. Africare-Sierra Leone agricultural extension staff in partnership with staff from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) offer extension services to cassava farmers through a farm-to-field schools training approach and farmer-to-farmer visits for technical support.
Farmers groups supported by Africare-Uganda have been contracted by the National Agricultural Research Organization to multiply selected cassava varieties. Africare has established over 258 acres of cassava multiplication gardens. Through the multiplication process it is envisaged that by the end of 2010 over 1,000 acres of cassava will be flourishing.
Africare has tested and multiplied improved varieties of cassava that were brought into Liberia by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI). The germplasm has been provided to farmers participating in Africare's lead farmer extension program to multiply the germplasm for distribution to other farmers that wish to improve cassava production and improve their household food security.
Africare also has experience in helping to forge private sector partnerships in cassava processing. For example, in Zambia, through the Market Improvement and Innovation Facility, Africare is participating in the commercialization of cassava through projects that promote processing for the livestock feed industry. Africare-Sierra Leone linked four clustered farmer associations and one youth group to private sector partnerships. Africare linked farmer associations to the Gbortima Gari Processing firm in Bo whose technicians have provided hands-on training in cassava gari production.