The IITA-led Africa Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) and its partners held a week-long preparatory workshop, taking vital decisions on the scaling of the project’s Decision Support Tools (DSTs).

Participants at the meeting, which took place on IITA campus from 14-18 October 2019, were representatives of several agricultural research institutions, faith-based organizations, development partners, private sector-led enterprises and academic institutions in Benue, Ogun, Oyo, and Abia states.

The meeting focused on assessing the progress made in the dissemination of the DSTs to farmers and re-evaluating the DST formats with a workshop on video making and editing. The DSTs include the Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management and Best Planting Practices, Recommendations for Cassava and Maize Intercropping, Tailored Fertilizer Application Recommendations for Cassava, Scheduled Planting and Harvest Recommendations for Cassava.

The digital component of the DSTs – Akilimo, the Airtel 3-2-1 service by VIAMO, and Arifu, were also discussed. Mrs Lydia Odeh, VIAMO’s Director of Programs was on ground to give an overview of the 3-2-1 service. She also took feedback from partners.

The Senior Partner, Relations Manager of Arifu, Martina Taverna, explained and demonstrated how the SMS-based app of Arifu helps in information dissemination at scale.

Partners at the meeting proposed that the DSTs in print and audio-visual materials be translated into more local languages and dialects as well as pidgin English for multi-cultural communities. They also agreed that the use of radio programs to communicate the tools be expanded.

Dr. Pieter Pypers, ACAI Coordinator said the aim of the meeting was to examine the progress made and collectively plan for the future.

According to him, the meeting also provided opportunity to get feedback from partners on the DSTs being developed and how to make the tools better.

The meeting also provided a platform for stakeholders to plan for the annual meeting billed to hold in December 2019.

Partners at the meeting commended ACAI for the progress made so far and renewed their commitment to meeting the targets earlier set at the beginning of the year.

Partner institutions in attendance were the Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi (FUAM), Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike, Abia State; Justice Development and Peace Movement (JDPM), Oyo; Oyo State Agriculture Development Program (Oyo ADP); Oyo State Cassava Growers Association (OYSCGA), Notore Chemicals Ltd; Sasakawa Global (SG2000), Cassava: Adding Value for Africa (CAVA 2); Psaltry International Ltd, and several others.