Lord Cameron of Dillington- Ewen James Hanning and 4 other dignitaries from the UK Parliaments Science and Technology Committee visited AfrII’s CAVA II project areas of operation in Nakasongola district, where the dignitaries were briefed by officials from AfrII on the projects interventions to beneficiaries in the district
The Lords met AfrII Chairman Professor G. W Otim-Nape and senior representatives of the CAVA II Uganda project led by the Country Manager Mr. Francis Alacho.
During their visit to the project sites of Nakasongola District Farmers Association (NADIFA) and Agaliawambu Cassava Processing and Marketing Cooperative Society Ltd (ACAPROMA), the MPs inspected the HQCF processing sites and were treated to demonstrations using the processing equipment -the Manual chipper and Motor driven cassava chippers.
Representing the visiting dignitaries, Lord Cameron said he was “immensely proud of CAVA II’s contribution to the lives of the beneficiaries” in supporting them to access market for their products but also in ensuring they adapt to new technologies aimed at improving cassava production and processing. He also commended the farmers for their willingness to take on new innovations aimed at improving their livelihoods.
According to AfrII Chairman Professor Otim-Nape, due to ongoing challenges with the cassava crop, there is a need for vigilance by partners to map out new interventions to curb these challenges. “Cassava is so important but is still faced with many challenges like the CBSD that is devastating the cassava. CBSD is a serious threat to cassava shelf life in Uganda and so CAVA II Uganda is working tirelessly with partners on projects like the Cassava Seed System (CSS) to tackle the problem. Innovations are already in place like the improved cassava seed varieties of NASE 3, NASE 14, NASE 19 and NAROCASS 1 that farmers are accessing under the two projects” says Professor Nape.
He recollects that the mosaic disease was cited in Uganda as early as 1949 and attempts for its eradication have since been on. “From then up to around the year 2000, innovations have been ongoing and to date new ways to continue with the eradication are still ongoing. AfrII, particularly has been very instrumental in cassava development through its projects like CAVA II and CSS working with partners on new innovations to address the cassava challenges. Our interventions under CAVA II have benefitted thousands of people in the three regions of operations and we are still spreading out to other areas.” adds Professor Nape.
Nakasongola district is well known for saving the rest of the country from the era of Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) that almost wiped out the cassava crop in Uganda in the early 90s. The district supported research on the crop in which AfrII Chairman, Professor George William Otim-Nape was very instrumental in conducting research on the crop that involved breeding the commonly known NASE 3 variety locally called Migyera that saved the country’s lost hope in cassava. Through partnership with AfrII’s CAVA II Project, cassava farmers in Nakasongola have earned money from sale of fresh cassava roots that is processed into HQCF. This has improved the house hold incomes and living conditions of the members of NADIFA and ACAPROMA. Both associations have also been able to buy assets in form of machinery i.e. manual chippers and Motor driven cassava chippers to support value addition.
In his remarks the CAVA II Uganda Country Manager, Mr. Francis Alacho highlighted that the CAVA Project has concentrated on developing value chains to ensure that smallholders have an assured market for their Fresh Cassava Roots (FCRs) for processing. “Phase one of the project successfully developed that value chain for High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) that is versatile and being used in baking, paperboard, and as a source of starch in the brewing industry” Mr. Alacho adds “Phase two (CAVA II) allowed to build other value chains in line with Ethanol, starches, glucose and so on though in Uganda, the highest value chain is still HQCF. Processing HQCF is the driver of the whole system whereby if farmers have gotten market where they can sell FCR on a continued basis, they then have incentive to adopt new improved varieties readily accessible to them through linkages and synergies created with other projects especially the CSS.”
In the 3 regions of operation (Northern, Eastern and Central) the Project has successfully increased cassava yield from a baseline of 16.1 tones/ha to 33.8 tons/ha in 2016 in beneficiary gardens. There has also been an increase in number of beneficiaries (direct and indirect) from 2,688 to 10,699 SHFs from 2013 to 2016.
Mr. Alacho however mentions challenges still faced in processing, where some farmers still use the traditional methods of drying (sun/open air) which slow down drying time and yet end users need assurance of continuous supply. He emphasized the need to focus attention towards promoting the solar screen drying technology so as to meet the demands from the end users.
The farmers of the two groups expressed gratitude to the visitors and equally to CAVA II Uganda for the efforts extended to them. The Chairman ACAPROMA, Mr. Henry Muwanguzi thanked the Visitors and CAVA II teams for their continued support towards farmers through projects aimed at improving their livelihoods. Muwanguzi re-echoed the challenges still faced including limited technology and climate change that are greatly affecting yield. “Nakasongola district is lucky to have a nearby water source-L.Kyoga but people still have dry gardens. We therefore humbly appeal to the UK government to assist us with small scale irrigation so as to curb this problem. We also embrace the new drying technologies promoted by the CAVA Project and further appeal to the government to extend a hand to help us acquire the solar dryers. We rely heavily on sun/ open air drying but the weather changes are continuously affecting the drying time. We look at solar drying as more efficient and want to adopt this technology.” Says Muwanguzi.
The Cassava Adding Value for Africa Phase Two Project (CAVA II) aims to increase the incomes of SHFs and community processors through participation in profitable and sustainable value added cassava chains in five sub-Saharan African Countries of Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi.