The International Institutes of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, said on Friday that it was working to tackle constraints militating against massive production of cassava in Africa.
Dr Kenton Dashiell, IITA Deputy Director-General, Partnership, told newsmen in Ibadan that it had conducted a workshop on Wednesday with key stakeholders to identify vital elements needed to modernise cassava production in Africa.
The theme of the workshop was: “Integrated System for an Effective Cassava Production in Africa.”
Dashiell said that the workshop was meant to change the life of farmers positively and raise cassava production from subsistence to industrial crop.
“We want cassava to be an industrial crop, so that we can have massive garri production and as well extract other products to feed Nigeria and become highly profitable to farmers.
“The workshop would help farmers understand that cassava can be 100 per cent mechanised starting from land preparation, planting, weed control, harvesting among others.
“ There is no doubt that Nigerian government in various levels such as the federal, state and local government levels are very serious in agriculture.
“This informed the determination of IITA to be committed to food security and sufficiency in Africa and Nigeria in particular.”
Contributing, Dr Claude Fauquet, Director Global Cassava Partnership for 21st Century (GCP21), said that Africa and Nigeria needed to produce more food due to increase in population.
Fauquet said that the population of Africa would double from now to 2050 and food issue was important, in view of the need to feed the population.
“We need to mechanise the production of cassava so as to produce in large quantity and make its price affordable to the large number of people, who consume it on daily basis.
“Africa’s production of cassava is 10 tons per hectare which is the lowest compared to Asia and India with 23 tons and 41 tons per hectare respectively,’’ he said.
Also, Mr Enock Chikava, Deputy Director, Agricultural Development, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said that the issue of development was very complex and require the contribution of stakeholders.
Chikava said that unless small scale holder farmers were lifted out of poverty, there may be no real development and different modus had to be adopted in order to do this.
He said the use of appropriate technologies in farming reduce time, increase productivity and address the constraints of small scale farmers