When the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project was conceived in 2014, one of the concerns on the minds of many was whether the team would be able to provide solutions that would address weeds in cassava farming systems, and to what extent the innovation could be disseminated to create impact at farm level. The bottom-line was whether the project would be able to raise the productivity frontier of cassava over and above the national average.
Five years down the lane, key stakeholders converged on IITA Ibadan on 14-15 March 2019 to reflect, examine, and give a verdict with regards to what extent the IITA-CWMP had kept to the task.
Participants from both the private and public sector concluded that the research results derived from the project’s work was a masterpiece that is set to change the narrative in cassava farming across Nigeria.
The positive commendation was against the backdrop of the excellent performance of the project across earlier set milestones:for instance, the project screened and identified safe- and environment-friendly herbicides. Through the integrated weed management approach of the project which combines best-bet agronomic practices and the use of herbicides, farmers are getting cassava yields of more than 20 tons per ha (more than double the national average of 9 tons per ha).
Speaking on behalf of the Oyo state government, Mr Victor Atilola, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, stated that the extension toolkit on cassava developed by the project was helping to improve cassava production in Oyo state.
Being one of the states benefiting from the IITA-CWMP, Mr Atilola said he hoped to have a better ranking for the state in cassava production. Nigeria ranks states in terms of agricultural production of key crops such as cassava, maize and rice, animals and aquaculture.
For Mr Ado Adeniyi of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), the Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management extension toolkit is an all– in -all package that will help farmers combat weeds in their cassava farms. He noted the ministry’s partnership with the project has been of immense help in addressing the issues of cassava weed control.
Another stakeholder, Mr Temitope Banjo, representing Bayer Nigeria Ltd, stated that working with the project to address the menace of weeds in cassava farms had proven to be a feat as the toolkit developed has recorded significant impact in so many communities. “we are also carrying the gospel of the Six Steps to communities we work with as it has proven to yield encouraging results,” he added.
Yet another stakeholder, Mr Akeem Abimbola of Syngenta Ltd, commended the IITA-CWMP team for its collaborative approach in implementing the project. He noted that the extension toolkit (Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management) was a valuable tool for assisting farmers to attain higher yields in cassava.
Nath Manoj of UPL gave a thumbs- up to the project and promised that UPL would continue to partner IITA to disseminate plant protection solutions to farmers.
Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the IITA-CWMP screened environmental- friendly and safe herbicides and explored agronomic factors including motorized mechanical options for weed control in cassava, and through extensive research developed the Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management toolkit and the ABC of Weed Management in Cassava Production in Nigeria. When followed and applied, farmers are able to increase the productivity of cassava and reduce the drudgery of hand weeding.