Researchers and farmers in a field trial
Researchers and farmers in a field trial

The African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) Project has established 137 limiting nutrient trials, and 70 intercrop trials in a bid to crack the agronomy of cassava, according to a 5-month progress report of the project.

A breakdown of the work done so far indicates that 20 limiting nutrient trials have been established in Nigeria and 117 in Tanzania. For the intercrop trials, 29 cassava/maize trials have been established in Nigeria, and 41 cassava/sweet potato trials in Tanzania.

Dr Abdulai Jalloh, Project Leader for ACAI said the trials would help researchers answer key questions relating to cassava agronomy.
“Understanding the agronomy of cassava is a crucial step towards maximizing the genetic gain of the root crop,” Dr Jalloh said.

The ACAI project plans 667 trials in both Nigeria and Tanzania across the four use cases directly associated with field experimentation. These are as follows: fertilizer recommendation (295); best planting practices (150); intercropping (202), and staggered planting (20).

The trials so far established represent about 44% of the targeted total number of trials.

The progress report shows that across countries, establishment of trials has been higher in Tanzania (82%) compared to Nigeria (26%). This is mainly due to the varying rainy season and farming systems in the two countries. The rains for the first planting during which most of the planting has been done in Tanzania are relatively earlier (March/April), while the main planting season for cassava in Nigeria is April/May. The remaining trials will be planted by the end of May/June in Nigeria while the rest of the planting in Tanzania has been shifted to the second planting in October/November. In general, the trials will be established within the window of planting by the farmers in both countries.

Dr Bernard Vanlauwe, IITA Director for Central Africa said, “We hope that more trials will be set up as we enter June when rains would have steadied in Nigeria.”