Tag Archives: Nigeria

Nutritious orange-fleshed sweetpotato snack can reduce waste, increase incomes

The 10th Triennial African Potato Association Conference (October 9 – 13, 2016) brought together over 200 researchers, development practitioners, policy makers and more to exchange knowledge and experiences from their work with potato and sweetpotato – including young African scientists and innovative farmers who received scholarships to attend the event.

Through its sponsorship of the conference, the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) was proud to award scholarships to seven promising African scientists including Dr. Rachel Omodamiro from the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) of Nigeria, who presented her work on the topic of ‘Optimization of preparation of pro-vitamin A rich snack made with orange-fleshed sweetpotato, okara and maize flours by simplex centroid design’.

“As a research scientist attached to a Product Development Programme in my home institution, NRCRI in Umudike, Nigeria, I made a pro-vitamin A rich beverage from orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) and I had some waste as by-product from this. So I went further and researched how to utilize the waste meal so as to fully utilize the OFSP,” explains Rachel.

Rachel (center front) presents her findings during the APA conference

Rachel (center front) presents her findings during a session of the APA conference. Photo H.Holmes/RTB

Rachel and her team took the waste flour from the OFSP beverage processing and combined this with okara, another flour that is the by-product of soy milk production, and white maize meal. The optimum ratio of the flours was established, then mixed and extruded using a single screw extruder at a constant temperature of 80°C, resulting in a nutritious ready-to-eat snack.

The chemical composition of the snack was evaluated to determine its nutritional content, finding that it had a total carotene retention of 94.95% based on the total carotenoid content of the OFSP waste meal.

The final product was then presented to a 20-member panel for sensory testing for traits including taste, texture and aroma – receiving a rating of 8.17 on a 9-point Hedonic scale.

Based on the product’s high rating and nutritional value, Rachel is optimistic that it could play a key role in helping to reduce vitamin-A deficiency, particularly among children. In sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of blindness, disease and premature death among children under five years of age.

The extruded OFSP snack. Photo courtesy R.Odonomiro

The extruded OFSP snack. Photo courtesy R.Odonamiro

“Snack eating is an integral part of the human diet that cuts across all ages, so the intended market for this product is everyone and especially children. A healthy snack such as this pro-vitamin A rich product will be more applicable to children as they need nutrients for their growth and development,” says Rachel, who explained that alongside vitamin A, the snack includes important minerals – calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc.

It could also help to provide a source of income for both small- and commercial-scale OFSP processors in Nigeria, and reduce environmental waste through its use of by-products.

“The research is a great innovative novel finding in that it utilizes edible agro wastes that could pose environmental challenges, and provides value addition to OFSP and soy milk production,” says Rachel.

“I hope to complete patency procedure of the research findings and then link up with more commercial enterprises for mass production to maximize the utilization of OFSP and contribute to the fight against vitamin-A deficiency. My institute is engaged in training rural populace on root crops value-addition. I hope to be able to conduct research on the use of a locally fabricated extruder and produce a training leaflet that could be used to train youth and rural small-scale food processors,” she adds.

Along with providing an opportunity to share her research findings with the scientific community, the conference was also a platform to seek potential funding to help bring her product to the wider population through consumer acceptance tests and packaging development.

OFSP can be processed in to a variety of products, including OFSP beverages. Photo S.Quinn/CIP

OFSP can be processed in to a variety of foods, including OFSP beverages as shown here. Photo S.Quinn/CIP

“The most valuable part of attending the APA conference for me was the ability to present my research findings, which was well appreciated by my audience, as well as opportunity to meet with other research scientists, which increased my network,” she notes.

Rachel’s work aligns strongly with RTB’s Flagship Project 4 (FP4) on ‘Nutritious RTB Foods and Value Added Through Post-Harvest Innovation’, which aims to support the fuller, equitable, and sustainable utilization of root, tuber and banana crops for healthier diets and improved income opportunities.

“This is just the kind of work FP4 wants to support as we look for ways to open up OFSP as a nutritious food to a broader urban market and add value. Developing and promoting healthier alternatives to existing snack foods is an important part of this, especially when accompanied by consumer education on healthier diets. We believe that this can build sustainable market demand for nutritious RTB crops like OFSP among young urban consumers,” says Dr. Simon Heck, Flagship Project Leader for FP4 and Program Leader with the International Potato Center.

For more information on the research reported in this article, please contact: majekrachel@gmail.com

Competition calls for innovative packaging of cassava stems to increase sales

A new competition is calling for innovative packaging designs to sell bundles of high quality cassava stems in Nigeria.

The competition has been launched by the ‘Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Seed System for Cassava in Nigeria’ (BASICS) project, which aims to develop a sustainable cassava seed value chain in Nigeria, based on the commercial production and dissemination of improved cassava planting material.


A farmer carries a bunch of cassava stems in Nigeria. Photo IITA

This seed value chain will serve as a vehicle to deliver better quality and more productive cassava varieties in order to improve productivity and food security, increase incomes of cassava growers, processors and village seed entrepreneurs, and enhance gender equity in Nigeria.

Currently, most cassava farmers use the stems from their own farm for planting or buy stems of dubious quality from the local market. To sustainably and significantly change farmers’ behavior to buy improved and quality certified stems, at least two things need to happen:

  1. The improved variety stems need to result in the farmers getting higher cassava production and ultimately translate that into higher net incomes, consistently, meaning that the variety needs to meet the contextual market demand. (Substance)
  2. The improved stems need to be presented well, packaged well and they need to result in a visibly improved crop stand in the farmers’ fields. (Style)

While the ‘substance’ is of greater importance in long term success, the ‘style’ is important to get the attention of the market to influence the initial buying behavior and hence is a vital part of marketing of any new product or service.

This competition invites innovative ideas for the ‘style’ or presentation of the cassava stems. Participants should submit their proposal in maximum of three pages on how to make a bundle of improved/certified cassava stems more marketable to farmers on a large scale.

Entries must include the following:

  1. Your contact details and a brief profile
  2. Cassava stem bundle treatment, packaging, labeling and handling proposal
  3. Overall additional cost per bundle of 50 one-meter stem cuttings (you can make explicit assumptions to get reasonable economies of scale)
  4. What attributes brought about through your proposal do think will entice the farmers to pay the higher price to buy your bundle of stems and come back as a repeat buyer or become an advocate for it?

Any individual or a group of individuals or an institute who has the ability to demonstrate the proposal in Nigeria is eligible to participate.


  1. $1,000 cash prize for the best proposal
  2. A Certificate Of Appreciation for the TOP THREE proposals signed by the Program Director, CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) and Deputy Director General for Research, IITA
  3. $5,000 award for implementing a pilot project of the proposal as a part of the BASICS project. (only if the committee feels the technology/proposal is mature enough to be piloted)

Judging criteria
Entries will be judged based on attractiveness of the proposed presentation of the stems in the eyes of various stakeholders, practicality of the proposal, on ease of availability of additional inputs being suggested, ease of handling of the bundle, tamper proof certification tagging of the bundle, overall cost and value for money considerations.

Important note
Please note that this is not a research proposal. It is expected that you would have experimented and come up with something that is now ready to be tested on a commercial pilot level. Or it could be a proven native knowledge that has been lost to the world and is waiting to be rediscovered. There could be ideas that improve the packaging of the stems and improve ease of handling, there could be methods for improving the look and feel through some low cost dyeing of the stems or some nutrient/fungicide dips to improve the crop establishment in the field. Your proposal could address just one or multiple issues at the same time and the most commercially viable proposal will be picked.

The entries should be submitted in the format mentioned above and should not be more than three pages long. The committee may seek more information at an appropriate time, if required.

Entries should be emailed to h.nitturkar@cgiar.org by July 25, 2016.

Download the full competition details

New project to build commercially sustainable cassava seed system in Nigeria

A four-year project (2015 – 2019) to develop a commercially sustainable cassava seed value chain in Nigeria, was officially launched Monday 18 April at a public event at the headquarters of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria.

Titled ‘Building a Sustainable, Integrated Seed System for Cassava in Nigeria’ (BASICS), the $USD11.6 million project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and led by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB).

Despite being the largest cassava producer in Africa, Nigeria’s average yields of 14 tons per hectare are less than half of what may be realistically attainable.

The project aims to help Nigerian producers reach this potential through developing a commercially sustainable cassava seed value chain based on the purchase of quality seed by farmers provided by vibrant and profitable village seed entrepreneurs and basic seed production linked to cassava processors.

These seed businesses will provide healthy seed of more productive cassava varieties leading to adoption of new varieties to improve productivity and food security, increase incomes of cassava growers and village seed entrepreneurs and enhance gender equity.

Kicking off the public launch, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, Director General, IITA, explained that the key to industrializing cassava is to increase productivity, and this means addressing the problem with weeds, improving agronomy and providing quality seed.

Dr. Graham Thiele, RTB Program Director, gave the project overview: “Our vision is that by 2019 smallholder cassava growers are buying high quality stems of their preferred varieties and planting them with improved agronomic practices. As a result yields have jumped by at least 40% and farmers have more secure markets for expanded production… Novel rapid multiplication technologies have lowered the cost of producing seed and accelerated the introduction of new varieties. Vibrant new businesses have been created all along the cassava seed value chain creating employment especially for women and youth.”

Mrs. Doyin Awe, Representative of the Hon. Minister, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development gave the official address and public launch. She noted that exciting new opportunities are opening for cassava, but planting materials for cassava present special challenges as they are bulky and perishable. She committed the full support of the Ministry to the new project and thanked the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for providing the funding.

Dr. Julius Okonkwo, Executive Director, National Root Crops and Research Institute (NRCRI), noted that much of Nigeria’s cassava seed system was informal and that NRCRI was very pleased to form part of the project in developing a modern seed system for cassava.

Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive Director of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) said: “I am excited to get back to BASICS so that we could move forward for a Food Secure Nigeria”. He emphasized the need to work on the entire innovation to impact pathway and said that today history is being made, and that he was very proud to see such a great initiative unveiled.

Mr. Louw Burger of Thai Farms, a cassava flour processing company, explained that better roots are easier to harvest and that its extremely important to start with the right seed.

Following the launch the project partners including National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), the National Root Crops and Research Institute (NRCRI), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Context Global Development, and FERA (UK) took part in a participatory workshop to finalize work plans and move ahead with the project.

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The CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas

The CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) is a broad alliance of research-for-development stakeholders and partners. Our shared purpose is to exploit the underutilized potential of root, tuber, and banana crops for improving nutrition and food security, increasing incomes and fostering greater gender equity – especially amongst the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations.

For further information and interview requests please contact:

Holly Holmes
Communications Specialist
CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas

New project to develop cassava seed businesses will enhance quality seed access, increase productivity and generate income in Nigeria

We are pleased and proud to announce the signing of a new project entitled ‘Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Seed System for Cassava in Nigeria’ with $USD11.6 million funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The four year project aims to sustainably improve farmers’ access to high quality and affordable cassava planting materials through the development and promotion of commercial models for seed provision.

The project will also build the capacity of Nigerian institutions like The National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) and the National Root Crops Research Institute in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and other stakeholders, including both men and women cassava farmers, processors and commercial seed producers to develop and put in to place a testing, field inspection and certification system for cassava seed. This will in turn help fast-track improved breeders’ cassava varieties to farmers.

High quality cassava seed improves farmers’ yields and profitability. Photo by IITA

This will help to ensure that good quality, disease-free planting materials are in use throughout the industry to improve productivity and incomes for farmers and their families.

The project will be coordinated by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) and implemented by partners including International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the Nigerian National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), the International Potato Center (CIP), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Fera Science Ltd, Context Global Development,  the Nigerian National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) and others.

Cassava is the most important food crop for Nigeria, the world’s largest producer. Cassava is contributing to Nigerian agricultural transformation and reducing poverty through its lowering of production costs and increasing productivity, coupled with the employment opportunities that are generated through cassava processing – which are particularly important for women and youth.

Chiedozie Egesi, Assistant Director and Head, Cassava Breeding National Root Crops Research Institute of Nigeria: “Despite the huge potentials of the crop to empower farmers, the cassava seed system has been weak and poorly organized due to lack of motivated seed entrepreneurs. Our hope is that this project will bring solution to a critical link in the crop’s value chain.”

Graham Thiele, RTB Program Director: “A transformation in cassava production and processing is underway in Nigeria to fully tap the potential of this crop to contribute to economic growth and livelihoods. One of the missing pieces of the jigsaw was the provision of high quality seed of the varieties which processors and growers need. If we can get this right there is a very large multiplier effect. We need to bring all the players along a seed value chain together in a shared vision. We have a great team in Nigeria and after a lot of hard work to put together a winning proposal we can’t wait to get going.”

The project will work with stakeholders including men and women cassava farmers, processors and commercial seed producers. Photo by IITA.

Commencing in 2016, the project will enhance the cassava transformation by working with four key clients including cassava farmers, commercial processor groups, village seed nurseries and government stakeholders to further support commercial seed producers.

Peter Kulakow, Head of the Cassava Breeding Unit, IITA: “This project will introduce new rapid multiplication technologies to increase the supply of high quality seed and we will engage industry and farmer participation to generate demand for new commercial varieties that meet industry and end user needs.”

Benchmark for mechanized cassava processing

A photo report about the visit to Niji Lukas Group, Ilero, Oyo State, Nigeria by Thierry Tran

IITA, a participating center of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), and the Niji Lukas Group (Nigeria) have been collaborating on cassava processing machine design, fabrication testing and commercialization for the past 10 years. The latter owns a cassava farm, a cassava & yam processing factory and an equipment factory under different companies of the Group: Niji Farms and Allied Services Ltd., Niji Foods Nig Ltd. and Niji Lukas Nig Ltd., respectively. _DSC7116

In May 2015 an RTB team visited the Niji Lukas Farm in Oyo State, Nigeria, in order to see an example of a cassava processing enterprise using mechanized and other improved methods for the production of diverse cassava products (gari, fufu, flour, etc.). Here, a quick photo shot of the team with a fresh cassava transporter enroute to Ilero town.

_DSC7161 The visit started with a tour through the cassava farm, where 3000 acres (1214 ha) of cassava have been planted since 2011. An additional 2000 acres (809 ha) were cleared in 2015. Parts of the land are rented from private individuals and/or the government, and others belong to Niji Lukas. Here, Mr Adeniji, owner of Niji Farms/Foods Nig. Ltd., and the farm manager lead the team through the fields. _DSC7192

Niji Lukas serves as a planting material grower and supplier to HarvestPlus, a part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) aimed at developing and promoting biofortified food crops. The farm has planted 225 acres of Vitamin A cassava including foundation seeds. Varieties include the TME Series 419, 581 and 30572. Other crops planted are 30,000 stands of yam and 3000 suckers of plantain. In 2015, 50 acres of vitamin A cassava have been harvested by HarvestPlus, a project funded by BMGF and many other generous donors. P1040965 group photo Niji farm        As noticed by the team members, weed management is a big challenge on the farm. Planting of crops, weed management and some other farm activities are usually done manually by a team of 20 workers. Here, a group photo shot on the farm. P1040954 Niji plant unloading 419 variety

Once at the processing center, the operations start with the delivery of cassava from the Niji Farm. Here, a tractor with a discharge collector is tipping off loads of harvested cassava roots. P1040955 generating employment for community
Niji Lukas uses a combination of mechanical peeling and manual peeling, which enables to optimize production capacity and at the same time to create job opportunities for local women. On average 40 women are engaged for cassava peeling._DSC7236

Mr. Kola Adeniji explains that the high quality cassava flour (HQCF) line has a capacity of 5 MT per day but presently only produces 2 MT. In the wet section there are two graters (2000 kg/hour/grater), flour pressing machines (1000 kg/hour/press) and one granulator. In the dry section, there are two flash dryers (capacity = 2000 kg/8 hrs) for the HQCF line, two milling machines and one sifter. P1040993 milling HQCF

The flash dryers at Niji foods have been gradually improved with the experience of the engineering branch of Niji Lukas, and machine components have been added, e.g. a feeding system that meters a regular amount of wet grits to the flash dryer. It dries 250 kg HQCF per hour from an initial 50% moisture content down to 9-10%. One operator monitors the dryer and adjusts the feeding rate if necessary. _DSC7304

After drying, the cassava flour is milled in two milling machines, whereat the combined milling capacity is 1600 kg per hour. _DSC7270

There are six “toasters” at the gari mechanical fryer section, each one with a capacity of 500 kg per 8 hours of operation and heated via a diesel burner. Roasted gari is kept inside cooling bowls. Before packaging, flour and gari are sifted in an electrically driven vibrator. _DSC7316

Niji Foods has installed state of the art technologies for food packaging and is one of the leading processors packing traditional foods to the highest standards accepted by the Nigerian food regulatory agency (NAFDAC) and exporters. P1050007

Other products processed at the factory are yam flour and the high quality fufu powder, a fermented flour. The production capacity per day is 1000 kg of fufu. Some of the companies that order fufu, yam flour, gari, HQCF, etc. from Niji Lukas include distributors in Lagos, Osogbo, Enugu and Ibadan; IITA, HarvestPlus, the IFAD/IITA HQCF value chain project and Honeywell Flour Mill. Some of these buyers export the cassava and yam products. P1050005

Here, a final shot of the RTB team at Niji Lukas Foods Nigeria Ltd.


Editor’s note: This photo report was corrected on 4 August 2016 to more accurately reflect the conditions of cassava peeling at the factory.

Opportunities for improvements in small scale gari processing in Nigeria

A photo report about the visit to the Ajegunle cassava processing site in Oyo town by Graham Thiele

Processing cassava provides a lot of employment and adds value especially for women and youth. The CGIAR Research Program on Root and Tuber Crops (RTB) has a dedicated cluster on this in its new program structure.

In May 2015 Graham Thiele, the Director of the RTB, together with CIAT, IITA and CIRAD post-harvest experts Dominique Dufour, Adebayo Abass, Bamidele Alenkhe and Thierry Tran, visited the Ajegunle processing site in Oyo town, in order to learn about the existing processes and to identify opportunities for improving small scale gari processing.

P1040937 Pick up being unloaded

Oyo state is the second largest cassava producer in Nigeria after Edo. The Ajegunle processing site receives 50 pick-ups of cassava per day, which are unloaded and peeled by female workers with long knifes. Each woman has a separate mound and puts the peeled cassava in a basket.

P1040933 Arubi elu 3 days after harvesting and no streaking

The preferred cassava variety at the processing site is Arubi elu. One of its main reasons is that it can be kept many days after harvesting without browning, an advantage for producing white gari. Here, the Arubi elu variety which – after three days – shows no streaks symptomatic of post harvest physiological deterioration.

P1210657The peeled cassava is taken to a motorized grater, which takes around 45-60 minutes to grate 1.2 tonnes. After grating there are about 60-63 bags, from one load of 1.2 tonnes.


The grated cassava is kept for 3 days in fermentation bags, in order to become more acidic and lose water, which makes it easier to press.

P1040922 two gari presses2

The next step is pressing the fermented cassava, which takes about 2 hours. A press can take up to 8-10 bags, so pressing the whole initial load of 1.2 tonnes of roots takes about 12-14 hours. Of the initial 1.2 tonnes, approximately 1 tonne remains after peeling and about 500 kg after pressing.

P1040924 peel and runoff

The run off of water from fermentation and pressing represents an environmental hazard, as it contains starch and cyanide. Due to the run off, bananas cultivated at the back of the processing center do not fruit well. 20 years ago another processing center produced so much contamination that inhabitants couldn’t drink the water from their wells, so they requested the center to be closed.

P1040913 milling

After pressing, the flattened bags are taken to a mechanical granulator. The grating process is uneven and large pieces are left after milling. Besides, the granulation and most of the wet operations are done with little hygienic standards.

P1210651 v2

In the next production step, the cassava grits are sieved and then taken to the open pan gari fryers, where women fry the gari moving it constantly to avoid it from burning.

Here, Mrs. Adekunle Ajara fries gari with IITA post-harvest expert Abass Adebayo.

P1040926 gari and firewood

Open pan gari friers use a lot of firewood and produce a smoky unhealthy environment.


After frying, the gari is sieved and the larger particles are sent back to the granulator and fryer steps. Final rejects and peels are sun dried and sold as animal feed.

P1040936 Ladies and Dominique

Old and young women are involved in the gari processing on the processing side, providing jobs to about 1200 people. About 90% of those employed and also many of the 90 business owners are women. When asked why no men were involved in more operations, Mr. Adebayo explained that the traditional cassava processing norm is that women are mostly engaged in peeling and frying while men do more power-intensive jobs such as pressing.

Here, Dominique Dufour, post harvest expert at CIRAD/CIAT, is chatting with some of the many women at the center.

P1040930 Adebayo left Timothy Adedokum and Abass 20 years from now

Since the establishment of the gari processing industry in Ajegunle, Oyo in the 1990s, there have been major improvements, e.g. in sieves and frying pans, the jacking for pressing and the mechanization of grating.

Mr. Adebayo mentions that he would also like to see a fully mechanized process to reduce drudgery. Mr. Adedokum strongly disagrees, pointing out that this would put the jobs of 1,000 people at risk. Only on probing, there could be changes as long as they preserve employment.


Abass, Dominique and Thierry identified the following options for improving small scale gari processing:

  • Use of white skinned cassava varieties that can be rasped without peeling
  • Enhanced grating process as there are too many large pieces left
  • Increased utilization of the waste from peel
  • Improved efficiency of frying, reduced use of firewood and chimneys for smoke
  • Improved hygiene through introduction of good manufacturing practices or GMP/quality management skills

All these changes should ensure that jobs are preserved, making sure that technologies are family-friendly and provide a conducive environment for women and their children of pre-school age.

The potential of cassava in the “new” economy of Nigeria

Facing declining oil prices, the Nigerian government has reached out to identify new sources of income and explore new markets. Investments in agriculture look promising.

Many local industries depend heavily on cassava and Nigeria is the biggest cassava grower in the world. However, cassava yields are comparatively low. The Economist, in a recent special article about Nigeria, examined these changes and highlighted the role of scientists from IITA in developing higher yielding cassava varieties, which can make a key contribution.

Read more about this recent development and the work of IITA scientists in The Economist special article about Nigeria published on June 20th.

Read article

RTB-NextGen Cassava project organizes gender research workshop in Nigeria in preparation for Phase II

Partners in the NEXTGEN Cassava Project and the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) were in Ibadan, Nigeria on 29-31 January to review the work already done in gender research and to discuss preliminary findings on gender roles in cassava production and selection of cassava variety preferences. These were based on results from pilot sites of 8 villages in Southwest and Southeast Nigeria.

Among the participants were IITA scientists from Ibadan and Cameroon and partners from Ghana, the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, and Bowen University. The lessons learned will enable those implemen­­ting the Project to note what has worked well and what still needs to be improved, especially as they map implementation strategies for Phase II in 2015.

Dr Hale Tufan from Cornell University, Project Manager for the NEXTGEN Cassava Project, said during the workshop that Phase II would focus on balancing and promoting those variety characteristics most desirable and appealing to cassava farmers, men, women and the youth, as well as to processors.

“…Before we go back to the field,” she said, “we need to refine what has already been done and map strategies for including more stakeholders, such as breeders and food technicians. Phase II will be more field based and will center on deploying desirable traits in cassava varieties to farmers.” A trip to the field was also organized for the workshop participants.

Among other objectives, Phase II of the Project aims to:

  • Develop a checklist to note the cassava varieties actually being cultivated on farmers’ fields.
  • Describe more in-depth the morpho­logical characteristics of these varieties on farmers’ fields.
  • Involve food scientists and technicians in describing the products that can be derived from the varieties.
  • Identify the ideal traits that farmers and processors prefer in cassava to promote breeding efforts to solve identified problems.

Original post published on the IITA website

For more information, please contact:

Andrea Gros, a.gros@cgiar.org

About IITA, www.iita.org

IITA is one of the world’s leading research partners in finding solutions for hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. Its award-winning research for development (R4D) approach addresses the development needs of tropical countries. IITA works with partners to enhance crop quality and productivity, reduce producer and consumer risks, and generate wealth from agriculture. IITA is a nonprofit organization founded in 1967 and governed by a Board of Trustees. IITA works on the following crops: cowpea, soybean, banana/plantain, yam, cassava, and maize. IITA is a member of CGIAR, a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future.

Addressing postharvest losses in cassava value chains

Postharvest losses are an important challenge in developing countries, and the RTB Research Program has included the issue in its research agenda for improving food security and income-generating activities. Diego Naziri, a scientist seconded by the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) to the International Potato Center (CIP), works on the RTB team dedicated to promoting postharvest technologies, value chains and market opportunities. He is the lead author of a recently published article on “The diversity of postharvest losses in cassava value chains in selected developing countries,” which compares the situations of different cassava–producing countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Thailand and Vietnam.

“This research is the result of the effort of a multi-disciplinary team,” Naziri explained. ““I was very surprised by the findings of this systematic assessment of postharvest losses for such a perishable crop as cassava. The extent of these losses, their type and the stages of the value chain where they occur differ so much from country to country. It is clear that there is no “silver bullet,” so before designing any intervention for postharvest losses reduction, I would recommend similar approaches in other countries and value chains.”

The full PDF text is available from the Journal of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Tropics and Subtropics: http://www.jarts.info/index.php/jarts/article/view/2014121946902/821


The extent of physical and economic postharvest losses at different stages of cassava value chains has been estimated in four countries that differ considerably in the way cassava is cultivated, processed and consumed and in the relationships and linkages among the value chain actors. Ghana incurs by far the highest losses because a high proportion of roots reach the consumers in the fresh form. Most losses occur at the last stage of the value chain. In Nigeria and Vietnam processors incur most of the losses while in Thailand most losses occur during harvesting. Poorer countries incur higher losses despite their capacity to absorb sub-standard products (therefore transforming part of the physical losses into economic losses) and less strict buyer standards. In monetary terms the impact of losses is particularly severe in Ghana and estimated at about half a billion US dollar per annum while in the other countries it is at the most about USD 50 million. This comparison shows that there are no “one-size-fits-all” solutions for addressing postharvest losses but rather these must be tailor-made to the specific characteristics of the different value chains.


Cassava in Vietnam / Credit: Dominique Dufour

Mosaic and Brown Streak Disease in Cassava

Scientists alarmed by the rapid spread of brown streak disease in cassava, a crop that sustains 300 million Africans

World’s cassava experts to wage war against cassava viruses;
Introduction into Nigeria, the largest cassava producer in the world, could result in drastic food shortages in this part of Africa

Mosaic and Brown Streak Disease in Cassava

Mosaic and Brown Streak Disease in Cassava

BELLAGIO, ITALY (6 MAY 2013)— Cassava experts are reporting new outbreaks and the increased spread of Cassava Brown Streak Disease or CBSD, warning that the rapidly proliferating plant virus could cause a 50 percent drop in production of a crop that provides a significant source of food and income for 300 million Africans.

The “pandemic” of CBSD now underway is particularly worrisome because agriculture experts have been looking to the otherwise resilient cassava plant—which also is used to produce starch, flour, biofuel and even beer—as the perfect crop for helping to feed a continent where growing conditions in many regions are deteriorating in the face of climate change.

“Cassava is already incredibly important for Africa and is poised to play an even bigger role in the future, which is why we need to move quickly to contain and eliminate this plague,” said Claude Fauquet, a scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (known by its Spanish acronym CIAT) who heads the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21). “We are particularly concerned that the disease could spread to West Africa and particularly Nigeria—the world’s largest producer and consumer of cassava—because Nigeria would provide a gateway for an invasion of West Africa where about 150 million people depend on the crop.”

Fauquet and his colleagues in the GCP21—an alliance of scientists, developers, donors and industry representatives—are gathering at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Italy this week for a conference dedicated to “declaring war on cassava viruses in Africa.” For Graham Thiele, Director of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), supporting such an initiative is exactly what RTB is about: “We can only tackle big issues by joining forces and GCP21 is an ambitious convening mechanism to address with one of the most important constraints faced by cassava producers”.

A “Silent Killer” Emerges: CBSD on Warpath from East to West

First identified in 1935 in East Africa and little-known until about ten years ago, CBSD has emerged as the most serious threat among the various cassava viruses. Infections can claim 100 percent of a farmer’s harvest without the farmer’s knowledge. The leaves of infected plants can look healthy even as the roots, cassava’s most prized asset, are being ravaged underground. The tell-tale signs of the disease are brown streaks in the root’s flesh that, when healthy, provide a rich source of dietary carbohydrates and industrial starchy products.

There have been recent reports of new outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo—the world’s third largest cassava producer—and Angola, where production has boomed in recent years. The spread of the disease to West Africa and particularly Nigeria is a major cause for concern, experts say, because the country now produces 50 million tons of cassava each year and has made a big bet on cassava for its agricultural and industrial development in the near future.

Nigeria is the first African country to massively invest in the potential of cassava to meet the rapidly growing global demand for industrial starches, which are used in everything from food products to textiles, plywood and paper. Nigeria hopes to mimic the success of countries in Southeast Asia, where a cassava-driven starch industry now generates US$5 billion per year and employs millions of smallholder farmers and numerous small-scale processors.

CMD—a Scourge for Cassava on the African Continent

Brown Streak Disease

Brown Streak Disease

Scientists at the conference will also consider options for dealing with another devastating virus—the Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD). CMD has plagued the whole African continent for over a century, each year removing a minimum of 50 million tons of cassava from the harvest.

The disease is caused by several viruses and the African continent witnessed several major CMD epidemics over the past decades, the most recent and devastating pandemic occurred the 1990s in East and Central Africa. Great success was achieved in combating the CMD pandemic through developing and disseminating varieties that were resistant to CMD. In fact, by the mid-2000s, half of all cassava farmers were benefiting from these varieties in large parts of East and Central Africa. But by a cruel twist of nature, both improved and local varieties all succumbed to the ‘new’ pandemic of CBSD.

Unexpected Plot Twist: Whiteflies Ambush a Climate-Resilient Crop

Interest in cassava has intensified across Africa as rising temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns caused by climate change threaten the future viability of food staples such as maize and wheat. Cassava has been called the “Rambo root” for its extraordinary ability to survive high temperatures and tolerate poor soils. But rising temperatures now pose a threat to cassava because they appear to be one of several factors causing an explosion in whiteflies, which carry the viruses that cause CMD and CBSD and pass it along as they feed on the plant’s sap.

Compounding the effects of rising temperatures, scientists also think that genetic changes have led to the emergence of “super” whiteflies. This toxic mix of circumstances affecting a tiny fly threatens to shoot down the “Rambo root,” bringing the misery of food insecurity to vast swathes of Africa.

“We used to see only three or four whiteflies per plant; now we’re seeing thousands,” said James Legg, a leading cassava expert at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). “You literally have a situation where human beings are competing for food—with whiteflies.”

Farmers also help spread the disease by planting new fields with infected stem cuttings. Scientists note that while it would take several years for the disease to spread across the continent via whiteflies alone, infected stem cuttings could spark outbreaks in new areas overnight.

Experts to Develop Plan to Stop Viruses in their Tracks

At the Italy meeting, experts will discuss a variety of tactics for combating virus diseases, such as developing more disease-resistant varieties like those recently released in Tanzania. Efforts to breed high-yielding disease-resistant plants suitable for Africa’s various growing regions will involve going to South America, where cassava originated, and working with scientists to mine the cassava gene bank at CIAT in Colombia—the biggest repository of cassava cultivars in the world.

The expert team will also discuss a more ambitious plan: how to eradicate cassava viruses altogether. The aim will be to develop a bold regional strategy that will gradually, step-by-step, village-by-village, replace farmers’ existing infested cassava plants with virus-free planting material of the best and most resistant available cultivars. Approaches will include new molecular breeding and genetic engineering technologies to speed up the selection and production of CMD and CBSD resistant cassava cultivars more appealing to farmers.

There also will be discussions about cost-effective and environmentally sustainable ways to control whiteflies, as well as proposals for new surveillance systems that can better track and stop the disease from spreading and new research into the potential threat African cassava producers face from the introduction of new diseases currently found outside the continent.

“It’s time for the world to recalibrate its scientific priorities,” Fauquet said. “More than any other crop, cassava has the greatest potential to reduce hunger and poverty in Africa, but CBSD and other viruses are crippling yields. We need to treat CBSD and other destructive viruses like the smallpox of cassava—formidable diseases, but threats we can eradicate if everyone pulls together.”


Founded in 2003, the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21) is a not-for-profit international alliance of 45 organizations and coordinated by Claude Fauquet and Joe Tohme of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). 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. GCP21 is providing updated information regarding the crop, the scientists working on cassava and cassava R&D projects in the world.

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) are nonprofit research-for-development organizations and members of the CGIAR Consortium. Along with Bioversity and the International Potato Center, they participate in the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), an initiative bringing together the research synergies and resources of centers and partners to tap the underutilized potential of root, tuber, and banana crops to improve food security, nutrition, and livelihoods.

Additional Institutions attending the Third Strategic Meeting of the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century, Bellagio, Italy: CGIAR Fund; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); World Bank; the African Development Bank (AfDB); United States Agency for International Development (USAID); Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Syngenta Foundation; Catholic Relief Services (CRS); Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI); Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute (MARI), Tanzania; DSMZ; Natural Resources Institute (NRI); Tel Aviv University; Institute of Resources Assesssment (IRA), Tanzania; National Agricultral Crops Resources Research Institute (NACRRI), Uganda.