The IITA led African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) project has set the 2018 calendar of activities around running validation trials for the six Decision Support Tools (DSTs) that the project is developing. The first validation trials were set up in late March through April in Nigeria with similar plans organised in Tanzania from mid-year
until when the planting season peaks in late 2018.
Details of the 2018 plans were discussed in a series of meetings held in Nairobi, Kenya by the joint management team and later on in Ibadan by the Nigerian project activities’ coordinators together with partners.
ACAI has developed prototypes of the six DSTs that will be tested during the validation phase to ascertain their functionalities and improve on their prediction and recommendation accuracy.
“We are keen on the feedback from the field to understand how users interact with the tool, about the features of the tools, interface and what else that is needed. We shall then incorporate the feedback toward improving the tools,” states Pieter Pypers, ACAI Project Leader.
The validation of the tools brings to the fore the project’s primary partners whose needs the tools have been modelled to respond to within the cassava value chain in their respective countries. ACAI is developing
site-specific fertilizer recommendation and fertilizer blending recommendation tool to optimize cassava root yield, scheduled planting recommendation tool to ensure a sustainable year-round supply of cassava to the processing industry, and the high starch recommendation tool for optimum starch content in the cassava roots.
Other decision tools include the intercropping recommendation tool for cassava intercropped with maize and sweet
potatoes, and the best planting practices support tool.
Speaking after the Nairobi meeting, Dr Geoffrey Mkamilo, who coordinates ACAI activities in Tanzania among the national systems, described the move into validation as a good one. “The first results and development of version one of the recommendation tools is a big step, there is still a long way to go but what we have achieved is significant within such a short time,” explains Mkamilo.
The same sentiments were shared by Adeyemi Olojede, ACAI activities coordinator in south-east Nigeria, who added that the ACAI primary partners will now play more roles in testing the tools first hand. The validation exercises will be the first time that end users practically apply the decision support tools within their local areas of operation. In Nigeria, ACAI is working with PSALTRY limited, CAVA-II, 2SCALE, NOTORE, NIJI Farms, and SG2000.
The project is spread across 8 states in the southern region of the country. In Tanzania, ACAI partners are Minjingu, FJS, CAVA-II, MEDA, and Farm Concern International.