Four state governments in the south of Nigeria have allowed the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) and its partner Sasakawa Africa Association (SG2000) to set up cassava demonstration and training plots for the AKILIMO decision support tools at their zonal skill development locations.

The ACAI project which is implemented by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has developed the AKILIMO decision support tools to provide agronomy advice for cassava growers. The space allocated by state governments will create 14 additional demo and training locations in Anambra, Cross River, Edo and Ogun states and will provide training to more than 200 new extension agents who were not originally part of the project.

The new sites will be included in the ongoing establishment and planting of other demonstration sites previously earmarked for scaling and dissemination of the AKILIMO tools. Between March and May 2020, SG2000 established 80 sites in the four states that are going to provide training for 2400 farmers.

According to the ACAI scaling and dissemination program, demo plots will play a key role in showing the targeted farmers, extension agents and other relevant entities the step-by-step process of deploying and applying the AKILIMO recommendation as well as the expected results when these recommendations are properly applied.

The ACAI coordinator for West Africa, Christine Kreye, attributed the successful collaboration with the SG2000 team to their close association with the State Agricultural Development Program (ADP) which has been significant in enabling ACAI activities at the state level.

“This kind of progress has become a norm from our colleagues from SG2000 and we as ACAI are very pleased with the new opportunity to scale AKILIMO tools,” said Christine.

SG2000 and ACAI work very closely with state governments in facilitating research trials, capacity building and utilizing the government extension services network. Previously, SG2000 has facilitated meetings and discussions between IITA – ACAI staff with senior state officials for status updates and exploring collaborations in the field.

SG2000 state coordinator for Anambra, Chris Okoli, expressed optimism about the new development pointing out that the extra demo sites will help narrow the gap in the number of targeted EAs and farmers to mitigate dissemination challenges faced due to coronavirus pandemic. Sharing the same sentiments, ACAI Project Scaling Specialist Thompson Ogunsanmi, said the engagement of more partners to take up the use of these recommendations within their network is one of the sustainability arrangements with ACAI partners in Nigeria. The number of smallholder farmers in the network of SG2000 in Nigeria is huge and SG2000 has been in the forefront to ensure integration of all AKILIMO tools for use in their extension activities.