Tag Archives: GCP21

Global cassava coalition calls for support for cassava transformation in Africa

Press release for immediate release

Ahead of the international conference on cassava, the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21) has called on policy makers, donors and the international community to support all efforts that will bring about cassava transformation in Africa.

The call is coming at a time when cassava is becoming central to food security of over 600 million people in the developing world, and has become the fourth most important crop after maize, wheat and rice.

Presenting the upcoming conference on cassava to donors and the international community in Cotonou on Thursday, Dr Claude Fauquet, Director of GCP21 said, “despite the key role cassava is playing in Africa’s food security, its productivity had remained low (about 9 tons per hectare), keeping the growers in the trap of poverty. When compared to Asia, cassava productivity in that continent is more than 21 tons per ha—a situation that gives Asia competitive advantage in global cassava trade. Addressing the yield gap demands more funding for cassava research and development from all stakeholders, if truly the world wants to help farmers towards ending hunger and poverty in Africa.”

L-R: Director of the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21 Century, Dr Claude Fauquet; Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Republic of Benin, H.E. Dossouhoui Cossi Gaston; Minister of Higher Education, H.E. Mme Attanasso Marie-Odile; and French Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, H.E. Veronique Brumeaux during the press conference on Cassava Transformation in Africa in Benin.

Dr Fauquet noted that the 11-15 June, 2018 conference to be held in Cotonou with the theme ‘Cassava Transformation in Africa’, is one of the ways the GCP21 is contributing towards the transformation of the root crop.

He called for participation of all stakeholders, emphasizing that the conference would provide a unique opportunity for donors, investors, and policy makers to see and access the latest innovations and discoveries in the cassava sector.

The French Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, H.E. Veronique Brumeaux, who hosted the press conference said the conference was timely and would go a long way to address the constraints of cassava production while at the same time proffering opportunities for investors and farmers alike to harness new innovations from the research community.

The ambassador’s position was echoed by the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Republic of Benin, H.E. Dossouhoui Cossi Gaston, while underscoring the importance of cassava to Benin and Africa in general. He said the importance of cassava would continue to increase as its consumption per capita was high and the root crop is resilient to climate change.

Cassava is a critical source of food security for millions throughout developing countries. Photo H.Holmes/RTB

The Minister of Higher Education, H.E. Mme Attanasso Marie-Odile said the Republic of Benin is proud to host the conference. She noted that cassava’s development and transformation would offer opportunities for youth engagement which the country and other African countries could tap.

Invited participants to the press conference included representatives of the embassies of France, United Kingdom, Belgium, Switzerland, Brazil, Holland, Germany, Japan, Canada, United States, and European Union. Others were representatives of development agencies: AfDB, USAID, JICA, GIZ, AFD, EU, UNDP, and FAO.

This year’s conference is being organized by GCP21, in collaboration with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), National Institute of Agricultural Research of Benin (INRAB), Faculte des Sciences Agronomique – Universite Abomey-Calavi (FAS-AUC). Other supporting institutions are: The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Development Bank (AfDB); Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research (WECARD), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), International Center for Agricultural Development (CIRAD), and the Institute for Research & Development (IRD).

For more information, please contact:
Claude Fauquet, Director of GCP21, c.fauquet@cgiar.org 
Godwin Atser, Conference Communication Coordinator, g.atser@cgiar.org 

Nigeria’s gari revolution: improving efficiency and equity of a staple food

Gari is a staple food for millions of West Africans, particularly in Nigeria where its production exceeds 9 million tons a year, and employs hundreds of thousands of people – especially women and children.

Made from cassava, gari is a creamy-white granular flour with a slightly sour taste that is most commonly eaten either by being soaked in cold water together with ingredients such as sugar or roasted groundnuts, or as a paste (eba) made with hot water.

Cassava deteriorates rapidly after harvesting so processing into gari makes an excellent, safe and storable convenience food. It has a lot of potential for feeding rapidly growing urban populations.

The process of turning cassava roots in to gari involves numerous labor-intensive steps including grating the peeled, washed cassava roots and leaving the material to ferment for several days, slowly pressing the fermented mash to remove excess liquid, sieving and then frying and stirring on a large metal pan often over a wood fire. Gari processing itself is largely in the hands of women in small local facilities and represents an important source of income and employment for them.

Small-scale gari processing in Nigeria. Photo G.Thiele/RTB

Small-scale gari processing in Nigeria is a key source of employment for women. Photo G.Thiele/RTB

This process uses locally made, robust and simple equipment. However, it is not very efficient – around five tons of fresh roots are needed to produce one ton of gari and peeling the cassava by hand, a job mainly performed by women, is very time consuming. It also requires large quantities of firewood to roast the gari, and the smoke and general working conditions is a significant health issue for the women involved. The process also generates liquid waste from pressing the gari and heaps of waste peels which are an environmental hazard.

However, there is also a small but growing group of larger modern enterprises which are producing packaged gari using mechanized equipment for peeling, grating and frying.

To establish a detailed roadmap of the actions needed to meet the growing demand for safe and nutritious gari whilst balancing income and employment generation for men, women and youth, the ‘Gari Revolution in Nigeria: Roadmap to an Efficient and Equitable Gari Processing System’ meeting took place in Ibadan, Nigeria, from October 4 – 6, 2016.

Led by the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21) supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), the meeting brought together policy makers, scientists and experts from the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) and the International Cooperation Center for Research on Agronomic Development (CIRAD) along with many other partners in Nigeria with participants from Ghana and Uganda as well.

Women working in IITA's gari processing center fry gari, one of the last steps in the process. Photo D.Dufour

Women working in IITA’s model gari processing centre. Frying gari is one of the last steps in the process. Photo D.Dufour

“Because gari is regularly consumed by millions of Nigerians every day, and with cities projected to grow so fast we need to have a ‘gari revolution’. This will involve addressing many challenges simultaneously,” said Dr. Claude Fauquet, Director of GCP21.

“If the ‘gari revolution’ is successful we can reposition gari as a food of the future. It can play a key role as a locally produced source of much needed carbohydrates. It is also an excellent vehicle to improve human nutrition both in Nigeria and West Africa. While gari itself provides much needed carbohydrates, it has a relatively low protein, mineral and vitamin content, and there is the potential to enhance this by adding a supplement or through biofortification,” he explained.

Dr. Busie Maziya-Dixon, Senior Scientist, Food and Nutrition, IITA agrees, adding: “Gari provides essential carbohydrates and is an essential part of people’s diets. We are keen to explore options to make it even more nutritious. This is one of the key areas the workshop discussed: How do we improve the nutritional quality of gari without changing the texture and taste which the Nigeria population love so much? And what steps should be undertaken to make this a reality?”

The safety and environmental aspects of gari processing were also major topics of discussion during the workshop, and are of concern to Dr. Acho Okike, Senior Agricultural Economist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) who added: “We really need to get to grips with safety and working conditions in the processing environment which could give cassava a bad name! Collecting and transforming cassava peels into high quality animal feed will be a major first step.”

Workshop participants. Photo G.Aster/IITA

From L-R, Sanni Lateef (Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta), Graham Thiele (RTB), Peter Kulakow (IITA), Busie Maziya-Dixon (IITA) and Claude Fauquet (GCP21). Photo G.Aster/IITA

The workshop built on earlier work supported by RTB’s Flagship Project 4 (FP4) on ‘Nutritious RTB Foods and Value Added Through Post-Harvest Innovation’.

“In FP4 we paid particular attention to the small and medium enterprises where women play a major role. Stakeholders mapped the impact pathway from research on gari including incremental improvements to the processing technology of small processers, protocols for define product quality and waste management, through to livelihood improvements for cassava producers, processors and consumers. The intention is that different partners will use that pathway to improve collaboration and track impact,” said Dr. Graham Thiele, RTB Program Director.

The workshop report will be available shortly. Key lessons include:

  • While gari is already an excellent food product, we need to enhance it to better provide equitable income, food and nutrition security in the context of population growth and urbanization.
  • We need to identify more clearly the cassava varieties and traits which are suitable for gari and communicate that much better to all those involved in the gari value chain to ensure improved varieties are appropriate for processing.
  • Whilst gari is usually a safe food, there are safety and hygiene issues involved that must be addressed.
  • A dual pronged approach is required to progressively upgrade the capability and equipment of small-scale producers while supporting the larger enterprises as well.
  • Fabricators and processors must be engaged in a process of co-innovation of equipment, and the progressive upgrading of equipment must involve access to microfinance and information as well as technology.
  • There is an important aspect of gender equity linked to adoption, appropriate and affordable equipment for the women involved in small enterprises.
  • All of these changes need empowered organizations, and we need to enhance farmers’ and processors’ voices, so that stakeholders are involved in the process of defining what changes are desirable in gari processing.
  • Above all, a clear case must be made to policy makers in order to allocate attention and resources to implement all proposed changes

Six steps forward for root and tuber crops

Graham Thiele, Program Director, CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) shares his top six highlights from the first World Congress on Root and Tuber Crops, January 18 – 22, Nanning, China.

With root and tuber crops providing food for than 2.2 billion million people around the globe, it is no surprise that our efforts to improve these crops are so broad and geographically dispersed. The first World Congress on Root and Tuber Crops, which has just wrapped up in Nanning, China, brought together hundreds of experts working on various areas in the value chain and  is a special forum to share advances across all our crops.

This is one of the reasons why RTB is so pleased to support the International Society for Tropical Root Crops (ISTRC) and Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21) as co-organizers. For me, it was also great to see so many friends and colleagues in the roots and tubers community and catch up on progress. There is so much to report back, but I do have a few highlights from the week which particularly struck me to share.

Omics and beyond

It’s astonishing the progress made with understanding the genetic makeup of root and tuber crops and the different pathways from genes to trait expression which the new science of ‘omics’ has made possible. It was impressive to see the progress made by our Chinese colleagues, including a lively presentation from Songbi Chen of the Tropical Crops Genetic Resources Institute of the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences (CATAS) on the application of proteomics cassava breeding to understand how we could improve photosynthetic efficiency and starch accumulation in roots, thus potentially increasing their dry matter content.

A CIAT researcher examines cassava buds in the lab. Photo: N.Palmer/CIAT

A CIAT researcher examines cassava buds in the lab. Photo: N.Palmer/CIAT

Cassava as animal feed

I knew that cassava is a potential feed for livestock but I hadn’t understood that it actually has some special advantages. The presentation from Uthai Kanto, Associate Professor at Kasetsart University, and of the Thai Tapioca Development Institute (TTDI) explained how the fermentation and slight acidity of cassava chips inhibits mycotoxins when it used as a feed. Additionally the presence of low and non-toxic levels of cyanide even gives immunity to disease. These factors mean it’s a healthier alternative feed ingredient for livestock compared to maize, with improved weight gain for the animals although it does need a bit of enrichment with a protein source. This is an important finding for RTB supported work in utilization of cassava peel as animal feed.

Orange-Fleshed Sweetpotato farmers in Rwanda. Photo: S.Quinn/CIP

Orange-Fleshed Sweetpotato farmers in Rwanda. Photo: S.Quinn/CIP

Policy change promotes sweetpotato

Sweetpotato and other roots and tubers are often neglected crops. So it was very encouraging to learn from Jan Low of the International Potato Center (CIP) that because of advocacy and progress in research through the SASHA and SUSTAIN projects implemented by CIP, Rwanda has included in recent policy documents the promotion of biofortified foods, and in three districts (Muhanga, Gakeneke and Rulindo) local governments have included sweetpotato as a priority crop as part of their efforts to fight micronutrient malnutrition and improve the diversification of diets. For sure there are lessons here for other root, tuber and banana crops.


Cassava seed system in Uganda

Anthony Pariyo of the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) of Uganda explained there has been good progress made towards developing a sustainable seed system for cassava in Uganda, including a functional public-private partnership with BioCrops providing 12,000 plants from bioculture and a network of 47 seed entrepreneurs selling seed to farmers. There are some potential lessons here for a new RTB project on cassava seed systems which is getting underway in Nigeria.

Pruning buys time for cassava

Cassava roots deteriorate quickly after harvest, posing a significant challenge for farmers and processors. Harriet Muyinza of NARO took part in an exchange visit to the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia sponsored by the RTB-ENDURE project, during which she applied a cassava pruning technique that she learned during the exchange in field trials in Uganda. The results are very promising, showing that with one of the varieties called Tim Tim, pruning reduced post-harvest deterioration to below 20%, compared to 70% without pruning. This suggests that pruning could be effective for farmers to reduce storage loss and have more time to transport their crop to market.

Brown streak disease resistance

Morag Ferguson from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) reported the surprising finding that resistance to cassava brown streak disease, previously thought to have come from East Africa, was actually derived from a West African landrace. This, together with their location of molecular markers associated with the genetic inheritance of resistance should importantly enable preemptive breeding against brown streak disease in West Africa. This could be extremely important given that the disease is spreading west from its origin on the coast of Tanzania and potentially affecting the rest of the continent.

Graham Thiele, RTB Program Director, presents the program's priority assessment plans during the Congress. Photo: G.Smith/CIAT

Graham Thiele, RTB Program Director, summarizes the findings of the program’s priority assessment during the Congress. Photo: G.Smith/CIAT

I also took the opportunity to present two plenary sessions – the first updating the progress in RTB and giving a closer look at our work on improving climate change resilience, and the second summarizing the findings of the RTB priority assessment. This assessment kicked off at the GCP21 in 2013 and so it was very appropriate to present a wrap up in China.

The First World Congress on Root and Tuber Crops will be held in January 2016 in China

ImprimirThe Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21) and the International Society for Tropical Root Crops (ISTRC) join forces with CATAS – Chinese Academy of Tropical Agriculture Sciences, and GCRI – Guangxi Cassava Research Institute, to organize the First World Congress on Root and Tuber Crops in Nanning, Guangxi, China, on January 18-22, 2016.

The congress represents a unique opportunity for exchanging expert and scientific advice on RTCs – in particular for the global South – and will facilitate the discourse amongst key root and tuber crops stakeholders like farmers, end-users, researchers, the private sector and donor agencies.

It aims at raising awareness of the importance of the RTCs in the world, reviewing recent scientific progress, identifying and setting priorities for new opportunities and challenges as well as charting a course to seek R&D support for areas where it is currently inadequate or lacking.

The theme of the congress is ‘Adding Value to Root and Tuber Crops’ – from seed production to product diversification, enabling the identification of solutions for major bottlenecks in the production and proposing new technical solutions to resolve problems.

Due to its structure and content, the congress will facilitate the process of bringing together the scientific world and the private sector. There will be two formal plenary sessions, eight concurrent poster and oral scientific sessions per day offering more than 250 presentations, as well as evening workshops and much more to promote discussions around over 24 topics ranging from genomics to products.

In addition, the Congress will be preceded and followed by professional, technical and strategic satellite meetings, which will bring together an unprecedented crowd of professionals in the field.

Registration for the Congress is currently open via the conference website. Attendance is limited to 750, so early registration is advised.

There are also very attractive opportunities for exhibitors and sponsors. So don’t miss your chance to present your company to this qualified national and international audience!

Have a look at the available packages here: Sponsoring – Exhibitions

More information on the official Congress website or the GCP21 facebook page.

International meeting results in Pan-African cassava disease network

Scientists from international agricultural research centers and African national and regional institutions met in Saint-Pierre, La Réunion from June 10 to 13 to contribute to a war on cassava pests and diseases that threaten the food security and livelihoods of millions of Africans. The meeting resulted in the establishment of a Pan-African Cassava Surveillance Network – PACSUN, among other initiatives.

More than 40 cassava experts from African national and regional organizations and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and Research Institute for Development (IRD) attended the workshop on the French island of La Réunion. The meeting – an initiative of the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21) – was the first step in implementing a roadmap to improve management of cassava viruses and bacteria in Africa. The roadmap resulted from a meeting of cassava specialists held at the Rockefeller Foundation Center in Bellagio, Italy in May 2013, and was recently published in the journal Food Security. Among the various measures it calls for, is the creation of a Pan-African Cassava Surveillance Network (PACSUN).

Dr. Hortense Atta Diallo, the director of the Plant Production Research Pole at Nangui Abrogoua University in Côte d’Ivoire, is enthusiastic about PACSUN’s potential.  “I already lead a project that mapped cassava diseases in my country. Through this new network, we can pool all our activities and find solutions that will improve the lives of cassava producers,” she said.

As part of the workshop, the scientists visited the state-of-the art laboratory and field experimental station facilities at the 3P Center in Saint-Pierre.  They also met with 3P Center scientists whose work on aspects of plant health such as virology, bacteriology, entomology, tissue culture and DNA technologies will contribute to the diagnosis, surveillance and control for cassava diseases in Africa.

3 P Center

At the 3P Center

“With partnerships of over 10 institutions, we will have more knowledge, more funds and more speed in tackling the problem of cassava diseases,” said Dr. Maruthi Gowda, a scientist at the Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, UK.

Workshop participants discussed several international initiatives for the coming years:

1-      Establishment of a Pan-African Cassava Surveillance Network (PACSUN) comprising members of existing networks and organizations, extension services, NGOs and policy makers in Africa.  PACSUN will provide diagnostic expertise and information about the viral and bacterial diseases infecting cassava in Africa; consolidate data on one website; use advanced mobile phone technologies to reach the most remote farmers; and coordinate appropriate responses in each country to halt or slow the spread of diseases such as the cassava brown streak disease.

2-      Establishment of an International Cassava Transit site in La Réunion. The exchange of cassava material between countries in Africa or other continents is currently banned due to the risk of spreading cassava mosaic disease (CMD) and cassava brown streak disease (CBSD).  La Réunion, where cassava is not infected by these viral diseases, will act as a transit site where cassava can be checked for viruses and bacteria and where crosses could eventually be made to produce seeds for export without risk of spreading viruses. The experts at the 3P Center will work with regional and international centers to perform relevant tests for all known cassava viruses and bacteria.

3-      Development of a website that will provide the cassava community with information on PACSUN members, updated information about the geographical distribution of all cassava viral and bacterial diseases in the world and the harmonized protocols for proper and efficient diagnostic of viruses, bacteria and whitefly vectors.

4-      Development of diagnostic technologies to better identifying viruses and bacteria infecting cassava and the whitefly vectors responsible for the rapid spread of viral diseases throughout the continent.  A network of international, regional and national diagnostic laboratories (Cassava Diagnostic Network in Africa – CDNA) will be established to better serve PACSUN.

5-      Development of a comprehensive educational and training plan to support the activities of PACSUN.  This will include the organization of technical and scientific training courses to ensure the transfer of diagnostic technologies to each country in the network and outreach through various channels to ensure that all stakeholders have the knowledge needed to improve management of cassava diseases.

The workshop was supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), Agropolis Fondation, IRD, the European Union, the Région Réunion, the University of La Réunion, PPRSREC (Plateforme Régionale Pluridisciplinaire “Sociétés rurales, Environnement et Climat en Afrique de l’Ouest”) and Investissements d’Avenir.

Cassava in 3 P Center


 GCP21 is an independent non-profit organization collaborating with several CGIAR Research Programs and an array of research and development (R&D) organizations working with cassava around the world.  GCP21 organizes meetings and conferences on a variety of cassava topics aimed at filling gaps in R&D, promoting international funding for cassava R&D, triggering the production of industrial products from cassava, and providing a range of information about the crop and the scientists working on the crop. GCP21’s ultimate goal is to increase cassava productivity in the world. (http://gcp21.ciat.cgiar.org)

CIRAD is a French research centre working on international agricultural and development issues with a staff of 1800, including 800 researchers. CIRAD’s activities involve the life sciences, social sciences and engineering sciences, applied to agriculture, food and rural territories. CIRAD works hand-in-hand with local people and the local environment, on complex, ever-changing issues: food security, ecological intensification, emerging diseases, the future of agriculture in developing countries, etc. CIRAD has a global network of partners and of twelve regional offices, from which it conducts joint operations with more than 90 countries. Its bilateral partnerships fit in with multilateral operations of regional interest. CIRAD has an active policy for the training of young researchers in particular through a special recruitment programme for PhD students from the South. www.cirad.fr .

 IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement) is a French public sector institution working in science and technology, and entirely dedicated to research for development. It is jointly governed by the French ministries for research and for development. Operating from headquarters in Marseille, with two main sites in Bondy and Montpellier (France), IRD is active in over fifty countries, in Africa, around the Mediterranean basin and in Latin America, Asia and the French tropical overseas territories. IRD seeks to confront the major challenges in research for development by carrying out research, training and innovation missions in South countries – for their benefit and in partnership with them. Based on an interdisciplinary approach, the projects developed with our partners address issues of crucial importance for the South: tropical and lifestyle diseases, food safety, climate change, water resources, biodiversity, social development, vulnerability, and inequality, migration in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. www.ird.fr

The CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) is an international collaboration of agricultural research centers working on cassava, potato, sweet potato, yam, banana, plantain and other roots and tubers that aims to improve the food security, nutrition and livelihoods of some of the world’s poorest families. It combines the expertise and resources of the International Potato Center (CIP) as the lead center, Bioversity International, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and French partners represented by the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD). www.rtb.cgiar.org

Agropolis Fondation is a French scientific foundation established in 2007 to promote and support high-level research and higher education (training-through-research) as well as to broaden international research partnerships in agricultural sciences and sustainable development research. It supports projects with fellowships, doctoral and post-doctoral grants and other awards that enable leading and promising international scientists to work with the Foundation’s scientific network in Montpellier thereby facilitating knowledge exchange and international partnerships. It supports research initiatives on five domains: (i) Genetics and genomics, plant breeding, eco-physiology; (ii) integrated crop protection, (iii) Agro-ecosystems and resource management ; (iv) Agri-food systems and non-food materials ; (v) Innovation processes and social management of innovation. http://www.agropolis-fondation.fr


International experts gather to address diseases threatening Africa’s cassava production

Cassava is the second most important staple in Africa and is regularly consumed by more than 700 million people around the world, in everything from tapioca to starch. Yet in Africa, the vital crop is threatened by diseases that could greatly increase hunger if they continue to spread unchecked.

To confront this threat, international experts will gather in Saint-Pierre de La Réunion, France from 10-13 June to plan measures to improve the surveillance and control of cassava diseases in Africa. Organized by the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21), the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and the French Institute of Research for Development (IRD), and supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), the meeting will bring together experts from 13 African countries and international networks and organizations to share information and plan cooperative action.

Cassava has the potential to play an increasingly important role in food security as climate change advances, since it is drought resistant and responds well to high temperatures and high carbon dioxide levels. To safeguard this potential, an international cassava expert meeting on confronting major threats was held in Bellagio, Italy in May 2013, when participating scientists declared war on cassava viruses. They created a global strategy for managing cassava diseases called the Bellagio RoadMap, recently published in the journal Food Security.

Participant in the Saint-Pierre de La Réunion workshop will begin putting the Bellagio RoadMap into practice, in order to improve surveillance and diagnostic tools for the viruses and bacteria that attack cassava, and the whiteflies that spread them.  The workshop’s objectives include establishing a Pan-African monitoring network for cassava diseases and coordinating studies on the most destructive bacteria, viruses and insect vectors.

The workshop is being held at the Plant Protection Platform (3P Center) in Saint-Pierre de La Réunion, because its laboratory has the equipment needed to safely perform comparative studies, sanitation and multiplication of planting material. Because La Réunion Island has a remote location in the Indian Ocean, yet is relatively close to the African continent, the 3P Center has been chosen to serve as an international cassava transit site, where certified pathogen-free cassava cultivars can be propagated and exchanged between continents.

Another important objective of the workshop is to coordinate and increase the training of young cassava researchers: while the 3P Center offers a unique opportunity to improve the sanitation and international distribution of cassava varieties, it will also serve as a training center for young African scientists. More on the workshop

The Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21) is a not-for-profit international alliance of 45 organizations founded in 2002. It aims to fill gaps in cassava research and development in order to unlock the potential of cassava for improving food security and also increasing incomes of poor farmers through work to develop industrial products from cassava. Coordinated by Claude Fauquet and Joe Tohme, of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), GCP21 is providing updated information regarding the crop, the scientists working on cassava and cassava research around the world. www.gcp21.ciat.cgiar.org

Publication du plan d’action pour combattre les maladies du manioc

Le Food Security Journal vient de publier la feuille de route de la Conférence de Bellagio contre les maladies du manioc, le document-outil élaboré l’année dernière pour lutter contre la maladie de la mosaïque et celle de la striure brune, la première étant présente dans toute l’Afrique et la seconde se propageant rapidement notamment vers le centre et l’ouest de l’Afrique, causant d’importantes pertes lors des récoltes.

« Nous sommes passés d’une déclaration de guerre à un véritable plan d’action », se félicite Claude Fauquet, le directeur du Partenariat mondial pour le manioc au 21ème siècle (GCP21) et l’instigateur de la rencontre d’experts à Bellagio, en Italie, en mai 2013. Une quarantaine de chercheurs venus de tous bords – de l’agronomie aux sciences sociales – s´étaient alors penchés sur les lignes d’action nécessaires pour éradiquer des maladies qui ravagent une des cultures les plus importantes dans les pays en développement.

« Le manioc a prouvé être une culture qui tolère les sols peu fertiles, et adaptée aux conditions climatiques extrêmes comme la sécheresse. Il nourrit aujourd’hui quelque 800 millions de personnes dans le monde, en majorité en Afrique, mais aussi en Amérique latine et en Asie », rappelle Claude Fauquet. Le manioc connaît par ailleurs une demande croissante dans l’industrie alimentaire, en raison de l’amidon qu’il contient.

Organisation multi-partenaires, le GCP21 a été créé en 2003 afin de créer les synergies nécessaires en faveur de la production et de la consommation du manioc au niveau mondial, dans l’optique de développer son potentiel pour renforcer la sécurité alimentaire et contribuer au développement dans les régions les plus défavorisées. Le GCP21 est devenu une plateforme importante pour le Programme de recherche du CGIAR sur les racines, tubercules et bananes (RTB), après que leur alliance ait été formalisée en 2013.

« Nous avons encouragé la publication du plan de Bellagio en « Open Access », c’est-à-dire en accès gratuit, afin de mieux le diffuser et d’encourager d’éventuels partenariats additionnels, explique Graham Thiele, le Directeur du RTB. « Les efforts en faveur de la culture du manioc porteront leurs fruits au niveau mondial seulement s’ils sont correctement articulés et si les investissements sont bien utilisés, et nous pensons que le plan de Bellagio est un élément fédérateur qui va y contribuer », ajoute-t-il.

Prochainement, des experts du RTB, de l’IRD, du Cirad, du CORAF, de l’ASARECA, de l’AATF et de BecA-ILRI, ainsi que des représentants de 13 pays africains, se rencontreront afin de se mettre d’accord sur les premières étapes de mise en œuvre du plan. La rencontre, prévue du 10 au 13 juin 2014 sur l’île de La Réunion, dans l’Océan Indien, portera sur la surveillance et le diagnostic des maladies du manioc, ainsi que sur la circulation des matériels de plantation au niveau mondial.

Une nouvelle alliance vise à exploiter le potentiel du manioc pour lutter contre la faim et la pauvreté

Le Programme de recherche du CGIAR sur les racines, tubercules et bananes (RTB) et le Partenariat mondial pour le manioc au 21e siècle (GCP21) ont uni leurs forces afin d’augmenter les efforts visant à accroître la production de manioc dans certains des pays les plus pauvres du monde et d’exploiter pleinement son potentiel pour prévenir la faim, améliorer la nutrition et réduire la pauvreté.

Le manioc, une plante tropicale à l’origine du tapioca, est consommé par plus de 800 millions de personnes à travers le monde. La production de manioc est en hausse dans la plupart des pays d’Afrique et d’Asie, en grande partie grâce à la demande provoquée par la croissance de la population et l’industrie alimentaire. Les experts en développement ont cité le manioc comme une culture vitale pour le 21e siècle en raison de sa capacité de résistance en réponse au stress climatique. Il est cependant décimé dans certaines régions africaines par la maladie de la striure brune (CBSD selon son acronyme en anglais) et la maladie de la mosaïque.

Le GCP21 et RTB se sont associés afin de faciliter les efforts de lutte contre ces maladies et d’améliorer la production du manioc et ses débouchés sur les marchés. Les deux organisations travaillent avec un large éventail d’institutions pour la recherche agricole, des organismes de développement et d’autres partenaires, en visant à renforcer le niveau de coopération et d’engagement pour faire face à ces menaces.

« Le manioc est plein de promesses pour nourrir le monde, mais il est également menacé par de nombreux ravageurs et maladies. Le temps est venu de faire équipe au niveau mondial afin d’optimiser les investissements scientifiques et techniques, de combler les failles en matière de recherche et développement, et de se préparer aux changements climatiques. L’alliance entre RTB et le GCP21 assurera le niveau de coopération que ces défis exigent », a déclaré le directeur du GCP21 Claude Fauquet.

Lancé en 2012, RTB rassemble l’expertise et les ressources de cinq centres de recherche agricole dédiés à l’amélioration de la vie des petits agriculteurs des pays en développement. Deux de ces centres – le Centre international d’agriculture tropicale (CIAT) et l’Institut international d’agriculture tropicale (IITA) – sont des leaders mondiaux dans la recherche sur le manioc pour le développement. Le GCP21, créé en 2002, est une organisation multi- partenaires qui milite pour la recherche sur le manioc dans des domaines clés, et réunit ses membres pour une action ciblée, la collecte de fonds et de la communication.

Pour Graham Thiele, le directeur du RTB, « le GCP21 rassemble une large participation et une connaissance scientifique approfondie. Je suis très heureux d’être en mesure de consolider cette alliance et nous nous réjouissons de faire de grandes choses ensemble. »

Le GCP21, dont le secrétariat est basé au CIAT, organise une conférence scientifique internationale triennale pour examiner les progrès effectués, ainsi que des réunions ciblées sur des questions critiques pour l’amélioration du manioc, sa production et son utilisation. Ses activités récentes incluent la création d’une alliance mondiale pour déclarer la guerre aux virus du manioc, l’évaluation des options pour la conservation des variétés locales et importantes de manioc en Afrique, et le développement d’un système d’alimentation du bétail à base de manioc en Afrique.

RTB soutient le développement de variétés de manioc bio-fortifiées et résistantes aux maladies de la part de ses centres participants et de leurs partenaires. RTB soutient également un effort important destiné à étudier le génome et les métabolites de la plante, et à utiliser cette information pour améliorer les programmes d’amélioration génétique. La nouvelle alliance s’appuiera sur l’expérience longue d’une décennie que le GCP21 compte en termes de réseaux, de lobbying et de communication au profit de la recherche sur le manioc.

Pour davantage d’informations, veuillez contacter : c.fauquet@cgiar.org ou g.thiele@cgiar.org


New Alliance to Tap Cassava’s Potential for Reducing Hunger and Poverty

For Immediate Release

(12 December 2013) The CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) and the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21) have joined forces in order to strengthen efforts to increase cassava production in some of the world’s poorest countries and to tap that crop’s full potential for preventing hunger, improving nutrition and reducing poverty.

Cassava, a tropical crop that is the source of tapioca, is consumed by at least 800 million people around the world.  Cassava production is on the rise in much of Africa and Asia, largely thanks to demand caused by population growth and the food industry. Development experts have cited cassava has a vital crop for the 21st century due to its resilience in response to climate stress, but at the same time, it is being decimated in some African regions by cassava brown streak disease and cassava mosaic disease.

GCP21 and RTB have teamed up to facilitate efforts to control those diseases and enhance cassava production and market opportunities. Both organizations work with a wide range of agricultural research institutions, development agencies and other partners, and they aim to expand the level of cooperation and commitment to facing such threats.

“Cassava is full of promise for feeding the world, but it is also threatened by many pests and diseases. The time has come to team up on a global level to optimize scientific and technical investment, address gaps in research and development, and prepare for climate change. The alliance between RTB and GCP21 will ensure the level of cooperation that such challenges demand,” said GCP21 Director Claude Fauquet.

Launched in 2012, RTB brings together the expertise and resources of five agricultural research centers dedicated to improving the lives of small farmers across the developing world. Two of those centers – the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) – are global leaders in cassava research for development. GCP21 was created in 2002 and is a multi-partner organization that advocates for cassava research in key areas, and convenes its members for targeted action, fundraising and communication.

RTB Director Graham Thiele said, “GCP21 brings together broad participation and deep scientific knowledge. I am very pleased to be able to consolidate this alliance and look forward to doing great things together.”

GCP21, with its secretariat based at CIAT, organizes a triennial international scientific conference to review advances, and also smaller brainstorming meetings on critical issues in cassava improvement, production and use.  Its recent activities include establishing a global alliance to declare a war on cassava viruses, evaluating options for preserving valuable cassava landraces in Africa, and developing a cassava-based livestock feed system in Africa.

RTB supports the development of disease resistant and bio-fortified cassava varieties by its member centers and their partners. RTB is also supporting a major effort to study the crop’s genome and metabolites, and use that information to enhance cassava-breeding programs. The new alliance will build upon GCP21’s decade of networking, lobbying and communication for the benefit of cassava research.

For more information, please contact: c.fauquet@cgiar.org or g.thiele@cgiar.org


Background Information:

The CGIAR Research Program on Roots Tubers and Bananas (RTB) is an international collaboration of agricultural research centers that work with RTB crops – cassava, potatoes, sweet-potatoes, yams, bananas, plantains and lesser-known roots and tubers. Those centers Bioversity International, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), are the International Potato Center (CIP), the RTB lead center, and French partners represented by the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) – have joined forces to improve the food security, nutrition and livelihoods of some of the world’s poorest families. www.rtb.cgiar.org

Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21) is a not-for-profit international alliance of 45 organizations founded in 2002. It aims to fill gaps in cassava research and development in order to unlock the potential of cassava for improving food security and also increasing incomes of poor farmers through work to develop industrial products from cassava. Coordinated by Claude Fauquet and Joe Tohme, of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), GCP21 is providing updated information regarding the crop, the scientists working on cassava and cassava research around the world. http://ciat.cgiar.org/gcp21

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) – a member of the CGIAR Consortium – develops technologies, tools, and new knowledge that better enable farmers, especially smallholders, to make agriculture eco-efficient—that is, competitive and profitable as well as sustainable and resilient. Eco-efficient agriculture reduces hunger and poverty, improves human nutrition, and offers solutions to environmental degradation and climate change in the tropics. With headquarters near Cali, Colombia, CIAT conducts research for development in tropical regions of Latin America, Africa, and Asia. www.ciat.cgiar.org

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) – a member of the CGIAR Consortium – is a nonprofit research-for-development organization that works with partners in Africa and beyond to enhance food security and improve livelihoods. Over the past three decades, IITA has played a key role in fighting poverty by reducing producer and consumer risks, enhancing crop quality and productivity, and generating wealth from agriculture. IITA headquarters are in Ibadan, Nigeria. www.iita.org

UK’s Natural Resource Institute: strength in depth for RTB research and development

By Graham Thiele

I visited NRI offices and labs near to Chatham, England earlier this year. I began the day with Andrew Westby, the enthusiastic director, who explained the full breadth of their work with roots and tubers. They are definitely big players in the field and many of their projects are directly related to what we do in RTB.

John Orchard and David Phillips, for instance, are supporting yam seed system development in West Africa. The main challenge is linking farmers to seed growers and scaling up for commercial production, David concluded after field visits. The economics of seed multiplication hinges on the cost of foundation seed, and broader multiplication depends on creating a community-based seed system.

Next stop was a chat with John Colvin, Sue Seal and Maruthi Gowda, who are using a holistic approach to understanding viruses and their spread, integrating knowledge of the disease, vectors, molecular diagnostics and bioinformatics. They explained that superabundant whiteflies, vectors for the transmission of brown streak virus, seen in late 1990s was a problem waiting to happen. There was a clear match between spread of whitefly and brownstreak. So it really wasn’t a matter of chance that cassava brownstreak virus spread in Uganda in 2004 with devastating consequences. The topic is of utmost importance to RTB. We are supporting the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st century (GCP21), that earlier this year raised the alarm on new outbreaks and the spread to West Africa, where NRI also took part. Research lines being pursued in NRI include identifying genes for resistance to brown streak in elite lines provided by IITA and national research programmes in East Africa, and understanding the genome of whiteflies. John and Sue also pointed out the similar and significant risks of neglecting the management of whitefly populations on sweetpotato and the associated emergence of new virus diseases. They mentioned, in particular, the recent disturbing development of very high numbers of whitefly on sweet-potato in Uganda, which they identified as two of the most invasive and destructive species (MED and MEAM1) within the Bemisia tabaci species complex.

Another threat to sweetpotato is studied by Phil Stevenson, who collaborates with the Uganda sweetpotato program and North Carolina State University to identify genetic sources of and QTLs for resistance to sweetpotato weevils. Phil explained that long chain hydroxycinnamic acid esters prevalent in resistant varieties reduce oviposition and feeding by adults and stop larva reaching pupation. There are no anti-nutritional effects for consumers since these compounds occur in all varieties but vary in their quantities on the root surface. Segregating populations from a cross between the resistant African variety and a full mapped susceptible US variety is currently being studied to identify loci for resistance, so this looks like a promising new option to control this damaging pest.

Postharvest work is also big in NRI. Ben Bennett, Andy Graffham and David Phillips work on improving cassava processing in Africa with a focus on high quality cassava flour (HQCF) in the C:AVA project. They explained that large scale flash dryers proved not to be economically viable so the emphasis shifted to local flash dryers with a capacity around 250 kg per hour. Here they were able to substantially lower costs running dryers on cheaper fuel sources such as palm kernels and using a heat exchanger. These flash dryers are being acquired by the private sector in Nigeria, and market development is shifting to large numbers of small users such as bakers. Dominique Dufour, (CIAT and CIRAD) who leads our postharvest theme, Genevieve Fliedel (CIRAD), Bussie Maziya Dixon (IITA) and Keith Tomlins (NRI) are currently planning work on consumer acceptability in the framework of a new RTB postharvest project on cassava processing which should bring us closer together.

John Morton and Lora Forsythe are part of a strong social science group. They have contributed to developing an M&E framework for the C:AVA project). The framework matches differing country strategies and stakeholder needs. John explained work on a gender and diversity audit of organizations in five countries and how they looked at some of the tradeoffs for technological change with a gender lens. Laura, for example, pointed out that women sometimes preferred working with HQCF because of the health problems from smoke in traditional processing of gari, although it has been a major source of income for them.

I also gave a very well attended seminar about current RTB thinking to NRI staff, and the exchanges that followed confirmed multiple options for a closer partnership. I left Chatham very impressed with the wide range of competencies housed in a single institution.

Women and men members of the SSOSPA farmers organization in Eastern Uganda making HQCF with support from the NRI led C:AVA project
Flash dryer for HQCF production at Nobex, Nigeria with C:AVA, EU FSTP Cassava Growth Market and EU FP7 Gratitude project team members Collaborative team in Uganda in the field for value chain assessment and investment appraisal for cassava value addition (C: AVA project)