IITA partners in launch of Tanzania’s national cassava strategy

27 May 2021

IITA and other cassava stakeholders came together for the official launch of the National Cassava Development Strategy by Tanzania’s Minister of Agriculture on 7 May in the country’s capital, Dodoma.

IITA was also among the main sponsors and played a key role in organizing the event, which provided a forum for stakeholders to discuss how to operationalize the strategy to commercialize and industrialize cassava in Tanzania.

During the event, the Agriculture Minister, Hon. Adolf Mkenda assured the stakeholders that the government is prepared to collaborate to develop a cassava value chain to improve smallholder farmers’ livelihoods.

“We cannot meet the demand for cassava in China without farmers adopting good agronomic practices and improved varieties. Researchers are doing a good job in these efforts; without research, we cannot succeed in agriculture,’’ the Hon. Minister said.

The minister identified the priority areas for cassava commercialization, including research on diseases, good agronomic practices, and improved varieties. He noted that developing seed systems with rapid multiplication technologies would enable farmers to access clean planting materials easily. He also emphasized that good extension services that incorporate advanced technologies, including digital extension tools, are needed.

Leena Tripathi, Hub Director for Eastern Africa
Leena Tripathi, Hub Director for Eastern Africa region giving her remarks at the ceremony.

IITA’s team was led by the IITA Eastern Africa Regional Director, Leena Tripathi, who noted that cassava is one of IITA’s priority crops, but that Tanzania has not fully maximized its potential.

“As the strategy is launched today, we look forward to working with the government and stakeholders to implement the strategy and promote cassava industrialization,” said Tripathi.

She pointed out some of the technologies and initiatives available at IITA that can support the implementation of the strategy. “We recently started using the Semi-Autotrophic Hydroponics (SAH), a rapid multiplication technology for cassava seed in Tanzania. IITA has trained researchers from our partner, Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), to apply the technology in their laboratories,” added Tripathi.

IITA aims to increase agricultural productivity and farm income of smallholder cassava farmers through access to improved cassava seed varieties.

In the follow-up discussions, stakeholders noted the importance of collaboration of all stakeholders throughout the cassava value chain for crop sustainability and increased demand for cassava in the domestic and international markets.

Joel Emmanuel, a farmer from Karagwe, commended the existence of the cassava strategy. He said it will help create and expand the domestic market of cassava as the export market can still be challenging due to the country’s policies and priorities.

Former IITA agripreneur, Edwin Ndibalema, explaining to the Minister the cassava root waxing technology.
Former IITA agripreneur, Edwin Ndibalema, explaining to the Minister the cassava root waxing technology.

During the event, stakeholders also exhibited technologies and products along the cassava value chain. The meeting was also attended virtually by Tanzania’s ambassadors from Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and China, the main importers of Tanzania’s cassava.

IITA played a big part in the publication of the National Cassava Strategy book, editing and printing 2000 copies. The strategy is a blueprint to guide cassava commercialization and industrialization in the country.

IITA partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture, Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), and Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) in organizing the event.

IITA projects that took part and supported the event included Building an Economically Sustainable Cassava Seed Systems in Tanzania (BEST Cassava) project led by MEDA; Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) Cassava Compact (Establishing Cassava as an Agro-Industrial Crop); IITA-led African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI); and the Cassava Virology group.