International Society of Tropical Root Crops (Africa Branch) - ISTRC-AB
Development of the Global Cassava Strategy (GCDS), facilitated by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), was initiated in 1996 in order to:
identify constraints and hence opportunities for further public and private investments;
set-up a framework for international technical cooperation for research and technology transfer;
identify more cost-effective institutional mechanisms for rationalizing and increasing (to the extent possible) allocation of resources for research and investment; and
set-up the scene for future debates on global issues.
The strategy has been logically developed from a series of three regional studies (Africa; Asia; and Latin America and the Caribbean) and country case studies (Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda and Viet Nam). In addition, thematic reviews on global cassava markets; environment; and food security, gender and nutrition strategies have been initiated.
On the basis of the regional reviews, country case studies and discussions held at a workshop in mid-1997, a draft GCDS document was prepared (Plucknett, Phillips and Kagbo, 1998).
The purpose of this brainstorming meeting at the triennial symposium of the ISTRC-AB was to raise awareness of the initiative and initiate interaction with researchers. The meeting was attended by 34 participants under the chairpersonship of Mr Bokanga, IITA. IF AD was represented at the brainstorming meeting and the plenary session by CM. Sourang, Coordinator of the Cassava Task Force. The issues raised were discussed in a plenary session at the symposium.
The draft strategy document (Plucknett, Phillips and Kagbo, 1998) is available from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
In summary, the main elements of the Strategy are:
the proposal of a demand/market orientated approach to cassava development for the benefit of those who grow, process and market it;
the importance of having catalysts and champions to facilitate cassava development; and
the recognition that the strategy needs to be implemented at various levels starting from national, through regional to global.
The draft strategy document was discussed in detail. It was stressed that the proposed Strategy is applicable for implementation at local, national, regional or global levels. It is not just a strategy for world trade in cassava. In Africa there is a wide range of stakeholders and the approach adopted in developing and implementing the Strategy needs to be applicable to all of them. The importance of exploiting market opportunities and protecting the environment was emphasized. It was agreed that all of these issues were addressed within the current strategy.
It was recognized that cassava covers a diverse range of uses in Africa from subsistence to commercial. It is important that strategy and its implementation takes this into account and allows stakeholders to develop the sector appropriately and at their own pace.
Food security is still an issue in many parts of the continent and predictions are bad because of climatic conditions, civil unrest, etc. It was considered essential to ensure that although the crop may be targeted for development, it should still be available for food security purposes.
A point was raised concerning the optimum way of organizing markets. One suggestion put forward was the formation of marketing cooperatives.
Following the above-mentioned discussions, there was a consensus that the demand/market driven approach, as detailed in the draft strategy document, was appropriate for Africa. It was however suggested that there needs to be some flexibility to allow for the diverse situations that exist in Africa. The following summary was proposed. The approach should be demand driven from the context of the user; this might either be as demand from the market or as demanded for the user's own needs.
The following points on the Strategy were raised:
ISTRC-AB provides a unique forum for the exchange of information on cassava in Africa and has a crucial role to play in GCDS issues by interfacing with regional networks and international organizations;
the list of projects in the draft strategy document needs revision; this could be done by making the projects more generic;
there was a need for a list of priorities for interventions in the cassava sector (see below);
it was recognized that different countries were at different stages of developing cassava. This means that certain countries have knowledge that could be shared with others. This could be done through exchange visits;
there was a need for consultation with a wider range of stakeholders. These range from farmers to donors. Such a meeting was held in June 1998 in Uganda for East and Southern Africa through the regional trade organization, COMESA. A further meeting is planned through the Conference of Ministers of West and Central Africa in collaboration with CORAF and ISTRC-AB;
it was suggested that it will be important to consider local and regional markets as well as global markets. Each country has to ensure that it overcomes the constraints facing cassava production, utilization and marketing in order to ensure that the crop fulfils its important roles in food security and income generation.
Participants in the brainstorming meeting were asked to list the five most important priorities for investment in cassava in their own countries. Responses were received from 22 participants from 17 countries and these are summarized in Table 1.
Although this small survey was not statistically valid, it does indicate the importance being attributed to post-harvest and marketing issues. Pre-harvest issues of planting, material distribution and multiplication and selection of appropriate varieties remain important.
The following action areas were identified:
further analysis of the constraints to cassava development is required so that priority interventions can be defined. Some of these will need to be addressed at the policy level, some through exchange visits between countries and others will require new research. Table 1 gives a preliminary analysis;
a list of projects should be prepared to show the current status of research and development on cassava in Africa;
there was a need for consultation with a wider range of stakeholders particularly in West and Central Africa (for example, the planned meeting mentioned above);
there was a need for members of ISTRC-AB to provide comment on: the draft strategy document; the regional review for Africa and the thematic reviews;
there is also the opportunity for countries to prepare country documents as a starting point to having a national plan for the commodity.
Table 1. Priority issues mentioned by workshop participants
|Priority issues mentioned||Number listing as a priority|
|Processing of specific products (for export, flours, starches, feed)||23|
|Processing - not specified||12|
|Storage - mainly processed products||7|
|Labour requirements/gender issues||2|
|Product quality/pollution issues||3|
|Leaves (processing and marketing)||2|
|Planting material - distribution/multiplication||10|
|Improved and adapted varieties||11|
|Pest and diseases||7|
|Production - not specified||3|
|Reduction in production cost - market orientated||2|
|Extension and technology transfer||5|
|Priority issues mentioned||Number listing as a priority|
|Others (economics of production and processing, status of crop, need for grower associations, financing, land preparation, mechanism to influence policy)||6|
Plucknett, D.L., Phillips, T.P. & Kagbo, R.B. (1998). A development strategy for cassava: transforming a traditional root crop - Spurring rural industrial development and raising income for the rural poor. Draft document prepared for the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Rome.