The African Development Bank (AfDB) announced on Tuesday that it will invest $120m over the next two to three years to boost productivity and transform cassava and eight other commodities on the continent.
The nine products include; cassava, rice, maize, sorghum/millet, wheat, livestock, aquaculture, high iron beans and orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.
Director for agriculture at AfDB, Dr. Martin Fregene said, “Transforming cassava on the African continent would help African nations to cut imports and redirect about $1.2bn into African domestic economies.”
Fregene made the revelations at the Fourth International Cassava Conference, organized by the Century Global Cassava Partnerships for the 21st century, GCP21, in Cotonou, the Republic of Benin on Monday.
The cassava conference brings together more than 450 local and international cassava stakeholders from research and development organizations, government, the farming community and the private sector, a statement from the leadership revealed.
A statement signed by the conference coordinator, Godwin Atser, stated that “The bank’s investment in cassava comes at a time when African governments are scaling up efforts to end food imports and create wealth.”
Fregene said cassava was a strategic crop for Africa’s food security and wealth creation for youth, and women, adding that another dimension to the importance of cassava was in nutrition where cassava can enhance the nutrition of children directly or as feed for poultry and other livestock.
Minister of Agriculture for the Republic of Benin, Dr. Gaston Dossouhoui, said cassava remained the cheapest staple consumed by Africans, adding that “addressing the constraints of cassava production in Africa will have a positive impact on African farmers.”
He lauded the president of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, for his commitment to agriculture.
The minister also commended the GCP21 for organizing the fourth international conference on cassava, emphasizing that it would contribute to knowledge sharing that would help in removing the bottlenecks in the cassava sector.
Dr. Kenton Dashiell, deputy director-general for partnerships for delivery at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), said unlocking the potential of cassava required partnerships and close collaboration of partners to address the constraints facing cassava.
Dashiell commended GCP21 for filling the gaps in cassava research and development by organizing a series of conferences with experts sharing knowledge on innovations in cassava.
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