More than 2000 farmers in Osun state benefitted from the cassava projects which are being supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as researchers took turns to share new knowledge on cassava cultivation, weed management, agronomy and the use of improved seeds.
The farmers were mobilized by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and Osun state government to mark the 2017 farmers’ field day and the commissioning of the IITA Farm and Training Center in Ago Owu.
Godwin Atser of the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project gave a talk on weed management in cassava and how farmers can maximize the benefit of best-bet agronomic practices (good land preparation, accurate measurement of farm sizes, and planting distances etc.). He also spoke on the benefits of using improved planting materials (cassava stems) for planting. Dr Femi Aina of the cassava breeding unit shared insights on cassava multiplication techniques while Ms Kalejaiye of HarvestPlus gave a presentation on the importance of cultivating and consuming yellow cassava (provitamin A cassava varieties). Other projects such as the High Quality Cassava Project, Yam Improvement for Incomes and Food Security for West Africa (YIIFSWA) and the Aflasafe Project also made presentations.
IITA Head of Onne station and one of the lead organizers, Dr Richardson Okechukwu said the aim of the event was to showcase the outputs of research and to catalyze the adoption on new innovations.
The high point of the event was the presentation of planting materials including improved cassava stems by IITA Director General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga to the Governor of Osun state, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola for onward distribution to farmers.
Besides making presentations, the cassava projects also set up exhibition stands with various information materials on display to educate farmers on good weed control activities as well as safe herbicide usage, best bet agronomic practices, and the use of improved cassava planting materials.
While visiting the exhibition stand, Mrs Grace Titilayo Laoye-Tomori, Deputy Governor of Osun state expressed delight at the display of materials and stated that with the availability of what was on display agriculture should improve in the country.