This follows the launching of two projects under IFAD grant: Enhancing the Competitiveness of the High Quality Cassava Flour Value Chain (HQCF) in West and Central Africa; and Improving Quality, Nutrition and Health Impacts of Inclusion of Cassava Flour in Bread Formulation in West Africa (Nigeria and Ghana).
The projects will among others support the generation, dissemination and adoption of improved technologies for cassava production and processing; develop and pilot-test a set of integrated best-bet options for HQCF production and promote market access to secondary products; and develop and promote appropriate evidence-based models for sustainable value chain development for African agricultural commodities using HQCF production and processing.
Dr Alfred Dixon, Project Leader for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture’s project on Sustainable Weed Management Technologies for Cassava Systems in Nigeria, said the two IFAD-funded projects were timely in view of Africa’s comparative advantage in cassava production.
He described cassava as a poverty fighter, and stressed that improving the utilization of the crop, and scaling up/out processing technologies would help Africa address the issue of poverty and hunger on the continent.
“Africa has a comparative advantage in cassava production… so let us use cassava to get what we want,” he said in Lagos at the launch of the projects.
Grown mostly by small scale farmers, cassava is a source of livelihood to about 600 million people in the developing world including Africa, Asia and Latin America. However, the value chain of the root crop is under developed and coupled with the relative high perishability of the crop, farmers in Africa are yet to exploit the full potential of the crop in terms of livelihoods improvement.
In recent times, researchers from IITA and partners successfully baked bread using 40 percent cassava in wheat flour, providing an alternative source of raw material for makers of bread and other confectionery.
IFAD sees the inclusion of cassava in bread/confectionery as a major step that would address food insecurity, create jobs especially for rural youths, and incomes.
“Our expectation is that these projects will touch the lives of rural poor farmers,” Dr Malu Ndavi, Senior Program Officer, IFAD said.
He urged implementers and partners to work together towards ensuring that the project’s goals and objectives were delivered on time.
The 18-month project on cassava is for increasing nutrition and health impacts.