FG, AUC, others to hold maiden cassava conference

Federal Government in collaboration with African Union Commission (AUC), and Pan-African Quality Infrastructure (PAQI), in conjunction with Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme, (CAADP) are set to hold the maiden Africa Cassava Conference to boost productivity along the value chain towards achieving food security.

The conference is to boost Intra-African Trade, BIAT, and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) objectives.

The participants expected at the conference include countries from Europe, Asia, Africa, Caribbean, and others.

The objective of the Africa Cassava Conference is to bring together stakeholders in the Cassava Value Chain to share experiences, discuss and strategize on the full exploitation of cassava-based products ensuring that standards and quality requirements are giving necessary consideration. An exhibition alongside the conference will also be held where the stakeholders in the Cassava Value Chain will showcase their innovative cassava products.

Research institutions will also share research innovations in the Cassava Value Chain for the benefit of farmers, processors and stakeholders interested in investing in the Cassava Value Chain.

the Project Manager, Africa Cassava Conference, Heather-Ronke Akanni, explained the objectives and impact of the conference in the cassava value chain in Nigeria and rest of Africa, “

“The objectives are not far-fetched, we need to provide an overview, create awareness, share evidence based contributions from our participating states and countries, outside and within Africa, it is also to inspire innovation.

“The expected outcomes of the conference are centered around the need to enhance knowledge, collaboration, increased awareness of cassava products and their innovation applications.

“And of course, the most important is to close the gaps in the cassava chain as post-conference activity.

“For sustainability and national impacts, a number of post conference activities and projects are being looked into for national interest especially across the 10 high Cassava producing states– Akwa Ibom, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Kogi, Ogun, Ondo and Oyo. All the states of the federation are being invited and through the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF).

“Participants have confirmed participation from countries like- Sierra Leone, Togo, Ghana, Ethiopian, Barbados, Switzerland, Cote d’Ivoire, just to mention a few.”

Meanwhile, in a goodwill message, the representative of Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, Prof Abba Gambo, disclosed that the 36 States will be represented at the Conference, and said the 36 State Governors through the Forum throw weight behind the organisers as cassava value chain is one of the value chains prioritized by the Governors.

While fielding questions from journalists, the Executive Director, Nigerian Storage Products Research Institute, NSPRI, Prof Lateef Sanni, disclosed how cassava and other root crops can be stored to tackle post-harvest losses farmers have suffered over the years.

Sanni said, “Over the years, NSPRI was noted to be number one in terms of post- harvest service solutions to tropical root crops including cassava, then we have we call underground storage methods, where you bury the cassava before you use it.

“Then later we had double-wall evaporative cooling method and we still have it but it is modernized now, and some of the private sector are using it.

“Also, in terms of drying, we now have NSPRI parabolic solar dryer, a minimum of one tonne capacity that can be used for either cassava or yam and all other commodities, and the moisture content is around 30 to 40 per cent you can dry, and this one we trained some fabricators and we are ready to train more fabricators.

“We have the one that can go into our local governments that can be be suitable for the terrain we have, and I know that there a lot of effort at the National Assembly to make a case of the issue of silos because the President of the country talk of storage facilities for smallholder farmers.”

Also the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, who was represented by the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Engr Abubakar Garba, in a keynote address during a press conference held ahead of the maiden African Cassava Conference holding from October 18-20, 2023 in Abuja, with the theme ‘Stimulating Africa’s Industrialization through Development of Cassava Based-Products and Assuring Quality Along the Cassava Value Chain’.