The Japanese Embassy in Nigeria has agreed to join efforts with IITA and the Afe Babalola University Ado Ekiti (ABUAD) to help farmers.
To demonstrate their commitment, the three institutions signed a memorandum of understanding to improve cassava production and processing for Agbekoya farmers in Ekiti state.
Specifically, IITA will provide the Ekiti State Chapter of Agbekoya Farmers Association, with 600 bundles of improved cassava cuttings. In addition, IITA will provide 30 Agbekoya farmers with training in the use of cassava processing machines and 10 Agbekoya farmers on the maintenance of cassava processing machines.
The Japanese Embassy, on the other hand, will provide two cassava processing centers for the farmers while ABUAD would provide monitoring/ training services.
At the signing of the agreement in Ibadan on Monday, Dr Kenton Dashiell, IITA Deputy Director General (Partnerships & Capacity Development), expressed optimism that the collaboration would contribute to improve the livelihoods of cassava farmers, especially women and youth who play a pivotal role in cassava processing.
Dr Dashiell noted that the development of cassava along the value chain is critical for Africa to unleash the potential of the root crop.
â€œTo make cassava work for the poor, we need to produce and also process it into products such asÂ gari, fufu, high quality cassava flour, etc. We believe that value addition through processing is an important aspect for us to advance the potential of cassava,â€ Dr Dashiell said.
According to him, the project in Ekiti will contribute in several ways: it will create jobs, improve incomes, open new markets for farmers, and improve the Nigerian economy.
The Ambassador, Embassy of Japan in Nigeria, His Excellency Mr Ryuichi Shoji said that the provision of cassava processing centers with the collaboration of farmers was part of efforts to support the Agricultural Transformation Agenda of the Nigerian government. He also thanked IITA for its contribution to ensuring the success of the project, adding that the project would alleviate poverty and enhance food security.
The President General of the Agbekoya Farmers, Kamorudeen Aremu Okikiola, commended IITA, the Japanese Embassy, and ABUAD for their support to farmers. He called on other development and research organizations in Nigeria to emulate the intervention.
Prof Sidi Osho, Vice Chancellor of ABUAD, called on the farmers to actively participate in the project and to ensure that the efforts by IITA, ABUAD, and the Japanese Embassy do not go in vain.