The development of the Global Cassava Development Strategy (GCDS) and associated documents evolved from a brainstorming meeting convened by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in 1996 in Rome, Italy. Recognizing the importance of cassava as staple food and a source of income for hundred of millions of poor people in marginal areas in many parts of Africa, Asia and, Latin America and the Caribbean, the meeting noted the urgent need to formulate an overall strategic plan for cassava development.
The strategy consists in a systematic approach to identifying opportunities and constraints at each stage of the commodity development cycle from production to consumption. It is also considered as a framework for technical cooperation in research and technology transfer and for future debates on global issues affecting cassava.
It is recognized that a GCDS requires a coalition of stakeholders including cassava producers and their organizations, governments and policy-makers, donors, technical and research institutions and their networks, NGOs and their networks, and the private sector.
The development of the strategy was spearheaded by IFAD and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) and the "Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement" (CIRAD). The strategy is based upon a number of country case studies (for Benin, Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Nigeria, United Republic of Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda and Viet Nam), regional reviews (for Africa, Asia and Latin America) and cross-cutting thematic papers (on cassava markets and environmental issues of cassava production and processing) that were funded by IFAD, World Bank, Swiss Development Cooperation and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). In a review workshop held in 1997 in Rome, these studies were reviewed and a plan for completion of the strategy was developed. The plans covered the drafting of the strategy document by international experts, D. Plucknett, T.P. Phillips and R.B. Kagbo in 1998.
The strategy presents a vision that cassava will spur rural industrial development and raise incomes for producers, processors and traders and it will contribute to the food security status of its producing and consuming households. The essence of the GCDS is to use a demand-driven approach to promote and develop cassava-based industries with the assistance of a coalition of groups and individuals interested in developing the cassava industry.
Following the preparation of the draft document which was distributed to regional and international bodies, and individuals for comments and modifications, a series of regional consultation meetings were organized to gather ideas and suggestions to strengthen the strategy and agree on the approach proposed in the draft document. The regional consultations also provided an opportunity to ascertain the role and contribution of cassava to food security and poverty alleviation and the opportunities for cassava development. The consultation meetings for specific regions and groups were held as follows:
Eastern and Southern Africa: Kampala, Uganda, Marrch 1998
Latin America and the Caribbean: Cali, Colombia, April 1998
African researchers during the Symposium of the International Society for Tropical Root Crops - Africa Branch: Cotonou, Benin, October 1998
Asia: Bangkok, Thailand, November 1998
West and Central Africa: Accra, Ghana, June 1999
Further to the West and Central Africa consultation meeting, a Progress Review meeting was also organized in Accra in June 1999 to review progress made in the formulation of the GCDS and prepare a course of action for the Validation Forum.
The GCDS Validation Forum was jointly organized by FAO and IFAD under the auspices of FAO headquarters in Rome. There were 78 participants (45 invitees, 6 from IFAD and 27 from FAO) who attended the Forum, representing the public and private sectors, NGOs, Farmers' Organizations, IARCs (CIAT, IITA, IPGRI) and their networks (ACRAC, CEWARRNET, CLAYUCA, CEWARRNET, ISTRC-AB), AROs (CIRAD, NRI and the Universities of Hohenheim and Bath), financing and donors agencies (ADB, CFC, IDRC, IFAD, IFS, USAID), and selected national institutions (mainly those which contributed with Country Case Studies for the Strategy). Participants were from 22 countries.
The forum included presentations of: the background to the GCDS, Cassava Regional Reviews, Thematic Review, Cassava Medium-Term Outlook, the GCDS document, a Proposal of an Action Plan for the Implementation of the Strategy, as well as the Global Programmes for Commodity Chains. Three Working Groups were formed to discuss Coordination; Information Management; and Linkages and Integration. The plenary presentations by Working Groups addressed the problems raised in each of the groups and identified main activities for the implementation of the strategy. After discussion, a Drafting Committee was set up to prepare conclusions and recommendations for the forum. In the final plenary session, conclusions and recommendations were presented. During the discussion, participants provided valuable inputs for consideration in the implementation plan proposal. A representative of each of the principal stakeholders made a statement on their perception with regard to the GCDS and its implementation plan. Finally, participants were asked to confirm if they agreed to endorse the strategy and adopt the outline implementation plan.
The GCDS was endorsed with the following key points highlighted:
It should be demand driven and/or market oriented and take advantage of market opportunities for traditional and new products;
It should follow an integrated approach involving simultaneously production, processing and marketing;
It should have catalysts and champions to facilitate cassava development;
It needs to be applicable to a wide range of stakeholders and implemented at various paces and levels starting from national, through regional to global;
It should address issues of sustainability, gender and equity, and potential environment impact;
It should address food security concerns for disaster mitigation and recovery situations.
The Implementation Plan adopted during the forum draws on the principles outlined in the strategy document and takes into consideration the priorities established by representatives of the public and private sectors during the various consultation meetings. It reflects the discussions and conclusions reached by the participants in the Forum.
It was agreed that FAO, in its condition as an international organization supported by a large number of member Governments, has a key facilitation role to play in the implementation of the Strategy. In the first place, FAO will publish the report of the Validation Forum using funds made available by IFAD. FAO will also be responsible for the maintenance, updating and enhancement of the GCDS Web site, which is already accessible through FAOs Web page. It was acknowledged, however, that commitments were required from other organizations to assist in promoting and co-ordinating the implementation of the Strategy. The Implementation Plan provides a basic mechanism to facilitate the design of cassava development activities, spanning around three main areas, namely: coordination; information and promotion; and linkages and integration. The undertaking of activities in the three areas will need commitments from a range of institutions and groups of stakeholders. The presence of catalysts and champions to help and promote the implementation of activities is crucial for the successful implementation of the Strategy. Actions required at the global, regional and national level are listed in the implementation plan.