Tag Archives: value chains

Economically sustainable seed businesses to transform cassava production in Nigeria

Seed sector professionals have said that businesses selling improved varieties and high quality cassava stems for cultivation could help African farmers significantly raise their productivity. This will mean more income from the same land, inputs and effort. The benefits of this raised productivity will be enjoyed by all the stakeholders across the value chain in a sustainable way.

This was part of the resolutions from a national stakeholder conference on cassava seed system organized by the project, ‘Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System’ (BASICS) that was held at the Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in Ibadan from 20 – 23 March, 2017.

The meeting, which reflected on the experiences of BASICS in 2016 and refined the project plan for 2017 and beyond, brought together national and international researchers, academics, policymakers, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and farmers to a roundtable.

Making the case for urgent need for all the stakeholders to work towards a sustainable seed system in Nigeria, Hemant Nitturkar, Project Director for BASICS, reminded the participants that Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world with a production of about 54 million tons, but its yield per hectare of cassava roots is about 8 tons, less than half of the realizable yields of more than 20 tons per hectare. Researchers say one of the factors responsible for the low yield of cassava is the low adoption of clean and healthy seeds of improved varieties of cassava by farmers.

Participants at the BASICS project meeting in Ibadan, Nigeria. Photo: IITA

“We have to start with the right planting material and nurture it with good agronomy and weed management practices.  Each of these three components has the potential to raise the productivity of cassava by 30 percent. If we do not improve our practices in seed, weed and agronomy, we are incurring a lost opportunity of about 200 billion Naira annually from each of the three issues,” he explained.

BASICS is commercially piloting two distinct pathways of seed delivery. In one, called’Village Seed Entrepreneur model’, in partnership with Catholic Relief Services in Benue and with National Roots Crop Research Institute (NRCRI), in Abia, Imo, Cross Rivers and Akwa Ibom states, the project is helping develop a network of 130 community based seed enterprises. These Village Seed Entrepreneurs will source certified stems of improved varieties of cassava from NRCRI and IITA to multiply and sell to the farmers in their vicinity. This way, the farmers will not have to go far to source quality stems for planting. In the second pilot called ‘Processor Led Model’, in partnership with Context Global Development, the project is working with large processors of cassava who will then make available quality stems to their outgrowers with a buy back arrangement for the roots produced.

Lawrence Kent with Peter Kulakow of IITA who is showing the plantlets from the SAH early generation multiplication thriving in the field. Photo G.Thiele/RTB

Emmanuel Azaino of Catholic Relief Services proudly shows their poster which won the people’s vote during the stakeholder meeting. Photo: G.Thiele/RTB

Slow and low multiplication ratio has been a key constraint in cassava seed system. The project is piloting a new technology called Semi-Autotrophic Hydroponics for vastly rapid seed multiplication. Once this technology from Argentina is adapted and perfected in Nigeria by the Project, it is expected to have a significant impact on the ability of early generation seed businesses to quickly bring suitable varieties within reach of farmers. The project is also working with National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) and Fera of the UK to improve the quality certification system in Nigeria.

Lawrence Kent, senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said the aim of the project is to build an economically sustainable seed system that is profitable both to the sellers of quality stems and to the farmers who purchase and plant those stems. He encouraged all to create reusable bridges to continuously link technology developers with farmers through business oriented approaches, like the one being implemented under BASICS.

Graham Thiele, Program Director for the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas, which leads the BASICS project; Alfred Dixon, IITA Director for Development and Delivery, and Project Leader for the Cassava Weed Management Project; Amin Babandi, Director of Agriculture, FMARD, represented by Segun Ayeni, DD Roots and Tuber crops, FMARD; Folusho Olaniyan OON, CEO, Contact Consulting Nigeria and Program Director, AgraInnovate West Africa; Emmanuel Okogbenin, Director of Technical Operations, AATF and Robert Asiedu, Director R4D, IITA-West, all shared perspectives and added their voice for all stakeholders to jointly build a strong and sustainable seed system for cassava in Nigeria and wished all stakeholders well.

The BASICS project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and led by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB).

For more information, please contact
Hemant Nitturkar, Project Director, BASICS h.nitturkar@cgiar.org

Accelerating Africa’s economic growth through root and tuber crops

The 13th International Symposium for the International Society for Tropical Root Crops- Africa Branch (ISTRC-AB) has kicked off this week in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The four day meeting (5-8 March) brings together over 300 delegates from government agriculture ministries in Africa, development partners, international and national agriculture research organizations, academia, private sector as well as farmers with an interest in root and tuber crops in Africa.

Participants will present and discuss latest research, innovations, technologies and trends on root crops in line with the theme “Expanding Collaboration, Catalyzing Innovation of Root Crops for Accelerating Africa’s Economic Growth”.

Farmers rejoice over better access to healthy seed potato in Kenya. Photo: FIPs-Africa

“We hope we will get practical hands-on solutions, that can help address farmers’ constraints in production of root crops, with the modest investment dedicated to research and development of these crops,” said Tanzania’s Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries (MALF) in a speech read by his Director Dr. Hussein Mansoor. He encouraged researchers to work together with the farmers, policy makers and all stakeholders, for co-ownership of research findings to increase chances of technology adoption for the intended improved productivity and utilization of root crops.

He also further called for applause of the 2016 World Food Prize (WFP) laureates from the International Potato Center (CIP) which is the lead center of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) —Drs Maria Andrade, Robert Mwanga and Jan Low, all attending ISTRC-AB—for their great achievement in contributing to reduced hidden hunger among women and children of Africa, through the orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP).

Earlier, Dr. Low delivered a key note address, at ISTRC-AB, highlighting significant gains made in sweetpotato work in the region.  “Our breeding work in Africa has grown from only two countries in 2005 to 12 in 2009. A further three are engaged in varietal selection,” said Low.                                  

Dr. Jan Low delivers key note address the 13th ISTRC-AB symposium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Photo: V. Atakos (CIP)

She highlighted investments by national governments as important in supporting roll out of nutritious root crops such as OFSP. “Policy  support is critical in helping change perception of sweetpotato as a crop for the poor,” she said.

The meeting revolves around five sub themes relevant to RTB:

  • Managing priority genetic resources, cropping systems and pests and diseases
  • Commercial seed system, agronomy and weed management
  • Post harvest technologies, nutrition, value chains and market opportunities
  • Enhancing innovative impact through partnerships
  • Mobilizing investors for sustainable root and tuber crop research and development.

The concluding day of the conference on March 09 will feature a special plenary session for RTB to provide an update on the progress and results from the program’s five flagship projects. 

ISTRC-AB conference has been organized by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) working closely with a number of partners including RTB, CIP, and the Natural Resources Institute among others. ISTRC-AB was established in 1978 and is headquartered in IITA.

 

Blog contributed by Vivian Atakos, Regional Communications Specialist, International Potato Center

RTB-ENDURE banana project offers solutions for postharvest losses

Researchers collaborating under the ‘Expanding utilization of roots, tubers and bananas and reducing their postharvest losses’ (RTB-ENDURE) banana sub-project have identified solutions that will help Ugandan banana farmers and traders reduce income loss due to poor handling of their produce. The solutions were officially launched during the subproject’s final event which took place on 25-26 November 2016 in Masaka and Rakai Districts, Uganda.

Uganda produces about 10 million tons of banana per hectare per year , from an estimated 1.3 million hectares nationwide. For ordinary Ugandans, cooking banana is not just a staple crop but part of the socio-cultural fabric of the smallholder households and is used for medicine, bride price and marriage negotiations, birth and death rituals. The crop has been ranked number one for drought resilience in areas of the cattle corridor which are prone to prolonged droughts and frequent floods.

Participants listen during a session at the Final Event in Masaka. Photo by J.Turyatemba/Bioversity Internationa

In the event’s opening remarks, Dr Eldad Karamura, Bioversity International Regional Representative, said that in the last 15 years, NARO-Uganda and Bioversity International have collaborated on many banana research projects, largely in the pre-harvest sector of the value chain, including diversity conservation. He added that Bioversity International will move to further strengthen the postharvest sector to address hidden hunger in children and young mothers by promoting the consumption of vitamin A- and iron-rich bananas at the household level.

The banana sub-project is part of the larger RTB-ENDURE project implemented by CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) with funding from the European Union and technical support of IFAD. The overall purpose of the RTB-ENDURE project is to improve food availability and income generation through enhanced postharvest management and expanded use of RTB crops in Uganda.

As part of the activities that took place to mark the final event of the project, a science day was held where research findings were disseminated to an audience consisting of researchers, banana farmers, civil society, government agencies, the media, agro-processors, exporters and local government officials.

At the event’s science day, Dr. Diego Naziri, RTB-ENDURE Project Coordinator, explained that bulkiness and high perishability of RTB crops coupled with poor postharvest handling and lack of processing and storage facilities result in a short shelf life, high postharvest losses and limited value addition.

The banana sub-project adopted the Participatory Market Chain Approach (PMCA) developed by the International Potato Center (CIP). Under this design, all actors (farmers, collectors, wholesalers, retailers, exporters, researchers, non-governmental organizations, etc.) in the banana value chain are brought together to jointly identify, analyse and exploit market innovations.

A Ugandan banana exporter prepares her produce. Photo S.Quinn/CIP

According to Dr. Enoch Kikulwe, the banana sub-project coordinator, 18.2% of all the cooking bananas produced in Uganda (corresponding to 47.3% of traded bananas) suffer postharvest losses. Of this amount, 8.9% of the bananas deteriorate completely and have no residual value while 9.3% only deteriorate partially and are sold at prices lower than their normal market rates. This particularly impacts retailers, who are largely women.

In order to maximize sales and income, farmers are advised to concentrate on banana varieties that already have an existing market and high untapped demand. The available identified varieties include Mbwazirume, Kibuzi, Musakala and Nakitembe.

In a gender analysis undertaken as part of the project by Susan Ajambo, a Gender Specialist with Bioversity International, it was found that women are concentrated in banana retail, which is the least profitable node of the value chain. The project therefore supported women to participate in the more profitable nodes of the value chain, such as in wholesale and the production of healthy planting material. According to Ajambo, both men and women have already embraced the macro-propagation technique and have established commercial chambers for selling clean banana plantlets of selected varieties.

Among the other areas, the project has also identified optimum harvest time and storage conditions for bananas, developed market linkages, trained hundreds of farmers in enhanced postharvest handling and piloted sales by weight.

During the final event, a tour to a commercial seed multiplication chamber and a mother garden at Ddwaniiro in Rakai district was also organised where farmer groups held practical demonstrations of the new techniques of multiplying popular banana variety cultivars for commercial farming.

A number of institutions partnered in the project, including the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), CIRAD, NARO, KAIKA InvestCo, Uganda Fruits and Vegetable Exporters and Producers Association (UFVEPA), district local governments, and the Ssemwanga Group.

The project activities have been piloted in South-west Uganda in the districts of Rakai and Isingiro. This region produces 68% of the cooking bananas harvested in Uganda. The project began in 2014 and ended in December 2016.

Blog contributed by Joshua Turyatemba of Bioversity International 

Listening to what women don’t say

The field work mentioned in this blog was part of the IITA led Cassava Monitoring Survey project, funded by institutions including the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tuber and Bananas. Read the full results of the survey in the Cassava Monitoring Survey report

By Jeff Bentley for AgroInsight.

What women don’t say can be as important as what they do say. As I learned recently in Nigeria.

Cassava is a crop that is native to the Amazon Basin, but spread in early colonial times to much of tropical Africa. The hardy cassava is a short, woody shrub that can live for several years, thanks to its large roots which absorb water and nutrients, which helps the plant to survive the dry season.

Villagers love cassava because of its flexibility. People can harvest the plants one or few at a time, as the household needs food. But cassava can also be tricky. Once the roots are harvested they are fairly perishable and should be prepared into food fairly soon.

Women produce gari in Nigeria. Photo courtesy of AgroInsight

Women producing gari in Nigeria. Photo courtesy of AgroInsight

During a recent fieldwork sponsored by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), we found that, in Southwest and North Nigeria, men grow much of the cassava and women detoxify it by making it into several products, especially one called gari. To make gari, women peel huge piles of roots, one at a time, with a kitchen knife. Then the roots are grated in little motorized grills, and the mash is fermented in sacks, and then the moisture is squeezed out. Men may help with the grating and pressing out the moisture (often for a small fee). Then the women toast the mash into gari on a metal pan over a hot wood fire, continuously stirring the mash with a wooden paddle. The women also collect the firewood. Women can sell gari in village markets to buyers, usually women, who bulk the gari and take it to the cities.

To get cassava to transform into gari, Nigerian women use several strategies. They grow some cassava; they get some from their husbands and they can buy roots in the village. In the photo, a man sells a motorcycle load of cassava to a neighbor who will process it. Within four to five days women can turn the cassava into a bit of cash—which they can spend or keep.

In the villages across Nigeria my colleagues and I interviewed the men and the women separately. Some of the men told us that, among other things, they needed what they called “ready markets,” meaning that the men wanted to be able to sell their cassava  roots raw, in local markets, for a profit.

unloading cassava from motorcycleIn separate meetings, the women had plenty to say, but they never mentioned markets. On the other hand, the women wanted cassava that was easier to peel.

If we had interviewed men and women together, the women would not have bothered to contradict the men, when they asked for better markets for cassava.

The women did not ask for a ready market for cassava, because they already have one. They can always carry a basin full of gari down to the village market and sell it. Even landless women can buy cassava and transform it to make a living, working at home.

Men and women may even have conflicting interests. Higher prices for raw roots might benefit men, but could even harm the women, who buy the roots as raw material to make traditional foods like gari, fufu (with the consistency of mashed potatoes) and abacha (almost a kind of noodle).

In Nigeria, women are quietly feeding the nation; they are happy with the market just the way it is. That is why women don’t ask for ready markets. What women don’t say can be as important as what they do say. To learn women’s specific views and perspectives, we were reminded one more time that it is important to interview men and women in separate groups.

Read the original post on the AgroInsight website.

Understanding gender roles in Uganda’s potato and cooking banana value chains

In Uganda, gender roles in production, processing and marketing of root, tuber and banana crops are complex. Key decisions on production and marketing are often made by men, although women majorly provide labor at crucial stages of production. In the example of potato production and marketing in eastern Uganda, though women are responsible for key production processes, men primarily control harvesting and marketing of the crop. Men also tend to dominate wholesale trade while women are in charge of retailing.

As innovations, including in postharvest and marketing, become more available to farmers, men tend to take over responsibilities for roles that might have previously been largely the domain of women. Men are also likely to adopt new technologies faster than women, especially if they are capital intensive, and studies show that social norms in Uganda may also prevent women from taking up new technologies. For example, women may not have equitable access to training, inputs like land and farming equipment as well as capital which are critical to the adoption of new technologies. Additionally, women may not be empowered to make investment decisions at household level.

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In Uganda, the key decisions on production and marketing of root, tuber and banana crops are usually made by men. Photo by S.Quinn/CIP

This implies that if gender issues are not taken into account, interventions aiming at value chain development may preclude women from taking full advantage of emerging market opportunities, or even affect them negatively. It is therefore necessary that gender empowerment is promoted in the effort to develop and strengthen root tuber and banana value chains.

The ‘Expanding utilization of roots, tubers and bananas and reducing their postharvest losses’ (RTB-ENDURE) project prioritizes gender mainstreaming so as to develop gender sensitive interventions. As such, a Gender Action Plan (GAP) was developed by the gender team to ensure that men and women benefit equitably from the project interventions. In execution of the GAP, two situational analyses of the potato and cooking banana value chains in Uganda were recently conducted.

Here we highlight key findings of these studies:

Potato

  • RTB-ENDURE is testing and validating potato storage
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    Female farmers often have limited control over income from potato sales. Photo by S.Quinn/CIP

    technologies. Female farmers are more concerned than men about using poor quality seed which results in poor quality ware potatoes that are more difficult to store and market due to high perishability. Women are responsible for producing and storing seed within households, yet report they are rarely if ever targeted by training on good agronomic practices. Therefore, there is need to promote training of women in this area, as well as selecting them to host demonstration trials where applicable.

  • Due to unequal power relationships within households, men often decide how much, where and whom to sell to, as well as how to use income from potato often without consulting women. Women also report that gender norms designated potato as a men’s crop, implying that women who try to sell potato on their own without their husbands are viewed with suspicion. In some cases, traders raise the price of seed potato and lower the price of ware potato if female farmers are the ones buying or selling, respectively. Women shared that this may deter them from benefiting from higher sales and income from stored potato.
  • Both men and women report that limited access to financial services is a key hindrance to potato production. However, female farmers are particularly affected since poor access to credit is coupled with limited control over income from potato sales. Therefore, they find difficult to timely access inputs like fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and farming tools leading to low yields and hıgh postharvest losses. Both men and women mentioned the need for training in savings and credit management as well as better linkages to Micro Finance Institutions and other credit providers.
Potato traders in Uganda. Photo by S.Quinn/CIP

In Uganda potato is viewed as a men’s crop. Women who sell potato on their own without their husbands are often viewed with suspicion. Photo by S.Quinn/CIP

  • Female traders incur higher postharvest losses since improved storage facilities are not available and, moreover, they are often forced to procure lower quality potato due to capital constraints. This implies that they have a very narrow marketing window before their potato spoil, and thus highly welcome the effort for improving the postharvest management. However, the nature of their trade (retail) and low representation in management positions may prevent them to fully benefit.

Banana

  • Female farmers face major challenges in accessing production equipment and hired labor, particularly in peak production seasons. They also decry exclusion from planning and budgeting for proceeds from banana sales as a major problem since men exclude them from marketing. Suggested solutions include access to financing mechanisms to procure quality equipment and agro-inputs as well as sensitization of couples on joint visioning and planning for the family.
  • Male farmers mentioned that brokers obstruct direct interaction between producers and traders or final buyers. As a result, farmers are forced to trade at local level. Furthermore, they face seasonal price fluctuations and at times they completely fail to sell their produce. Suggested solutions included linkage to reliable traders/markets, strengthened dialogue with the final buyers, formation of marketing groups and linking such groups to buyers who purchase by weight.
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    Female banana farmers face challenges in accessing production equipment and hired labor. Photo by S.Quinn/CIP

     

  • The perennial nature of the crop makes loan providers averse to providing credit, and delays in approval of loans prevent farmers from procuring required inputs on time. The proposed strategies include linkages to credit providers who are willing to design agricultural friendly loan packages, including women friendly loan products.
  • Female traders face constraints related to mobility. Banana trade requires inspection of banana gardens and selection of marketable bunches. These activities are challenging for women who mostly depend on men for this. Negotiating with final buyers in major cities requires transportation that is often out of reach for women.

Because women accept these gender inequalities as the way things have always been, the solutions they suggested focused mostly on addressing their practical gender needs – such as better knowledge of potato seed storage to reduce problems they may encounter with their husbands in case the stored seed does not sprout well.

However, the gender strategies proposed for both crops seek to address both practical gender needs and strategic gender interests. For example, it is also clear that women are underrepresented in the management of potato associations but simply electing women into leadership positions that do not involve strategic decision making may not be effective. Women need to be able to meet their strategic gender interests and this may require training on management and negotiation skills.

These reports, besides guiding the implementation of RTB-ENDURE to ensure that the proposed innovations benefit both men and women, also contain important lessons for researchers and policy makers working in the postharvest domain in Uganda and other sub Saharan African countries.

RTB-ENDURE is a three-year initiative (2014-2016) implemented by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas that is funded by the European Union with technical support from IFAD.

Transforming the value chain – one cooking banana at a time

This is the first installment in a series of in-depth blogs investigating the ways in which the RTB-ENDURE project is strengthening the value chains for root, tuber and banana crops in Uganda. Through firsthand accounts from the farmers, traders and scientists at the heart of the project we get an inside look in to the effect this is having on the ground. Reporting and photography by Sara Quinn, Regional Communications Specialist, the International Potato Center.

View the full photo story here

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.

# # #

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
h.holmes@cgiar.org

Uganda: High post harvest losses in cooking bananas

Cooking banana is the main staple crop in Uganda produced mostly by smallholders for food and income. However, the cooking banana value chain players face risks of high postharvest losses due to the short green life of bananas and damage arising from poor handling of the produce after it is harvested, leading to high physical and economic losses.

A detailed market study was conducted in Isingiro, Rakai and metropolitan Kampala in Uganda to identify and describe the key players in the banana value chain and establish the current demand and future growth prospects of the different banana presentation forms. The study also established the level of sorting and grading in the banana value chain, the level of use of the weight-based pricing system and the actor’s willingness to pay for its introduction, along with determining the extent and causes of postharvest losses along the banana value chain.

Read the full story on Fresh Plaza

Making use of sweetpotato vines as silage

When James Francis Ojakol enrolled for a Master degree in animal science at Makerere University, he had no idea how he would finance his studies nor what area to study.

An opportunity from International Potato Center (CIP) to fund a research project fell into his lap.
Uganda is hosting a three-year $4m (Shs13.4b) project, funded by the European Union, which will expand the utilization of roots, tubers and bananas and reduce their post-harvest losses. The project is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas, of which CIP is the lead center.

Among other things the project will improve utilisation of sweet potato vines, roots and peels as pig feeds in Uganda, said Diego Naziri, a post-harvest specialist at CIP in Uganda and the leader of the project.

Read the full story at the Ugandan Daily Monitor website.

 

Making use of sweetpotato vines as silage

When James Francis Ojakol enrolled for a Master degree in animal science at Makerere University, he had no idea how he would finance his studies nor what area to study.

An opportunity from International Potato Center (CIP) to fund a research project fell into his lap.
Uganda is hosting a three-year $4m (Shs13.4b) project, funded by the European Union, which will expand the utilization of roots, tubers and bananas and reduce their post-harvest losses. The project is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas, of which CIP is the lead center.

Among other things the project will improve utilisation of sweetpotato vines, roots and peels as pig feeds in Uganda, said Diego Naziri, a post-harvest specialist at CIP in Uganda and the leader of the project.

Quality animal feed
Ojakol is now engaged in a two-year research that will contribute to this project. His topic is ‘Evaluation of Sweetpotato Silage as a Basel Diet for Growing Pigs’.

“The general objective is to improve pig production in Uganda through the use of sweetpotato silage as a low cost and high quality feed,” he says.

Research has already established that sweetpotato is a good feed for animals and livestock and specifically pigs. Ojakol’s research is of utmost importance to farmers in Uganda for many reasons. Research shows that feeding costs for pigs represent about 70 per cent of the variable costs in smallholder farms.

Pigs in Uganda feed on sweetpotato silage. Photo S.Quinn/RTB

Pigs in Uganda feed on sweetpotato silage. Photo S.Quinn/RTB

Indeed, women and the youth will benefit more from Ojakol’s research and the silage technology most since they are more responsible for pig management at a household level. Silage will reduce the time for sourcing feeds and reduce on the use of fuel like firewood for cooking them.

“Women are participating more in growing sweetpotatoes and in keeping pigs. Of course, unfortunately, they have the challenge of feeds, so they can’t keep a lot,” notes Gerald Kyalo, the principal investigator of the project.

“If we can get these women to make silage, that means they can increase the number of pigs they are keeping and of course that then will increase income.”

Prevent wastage
Uganda ranks number one, in East Africa, in pork per capita consumption. In Uganda, 44 per cent of farmers grow sweetpotatoes but the vines are discarded after harvesting and left to rot in the gardens.

A farmer with sweetpotato silage he has prepared for his animals, Uganda. Photo S.Quinn/RTB

A farmer with sweetpotato silage he has prepared for his animals, Uganda. Photo S.Quinn/RTB

Yet they can be ensilaged and used as pig feed during the dry season when there is feed scarcity.
Sweetpotato is the third most important food crop after cassava and bananas in Uganda. In Africa, Uganda is now the leading producer of sweetpotato only second to China in the world. However, simple technologies like ensilaging have not yet been embraced.

The simple affordable technology of ensilaging the roots and vines will help to prevent wastage of valuable feed resources, adds Kyalo.

Sweetpotato is seasonal. There are times after harvesting that farmers have a lot of sweet potatoes and during harvesting they waste all the vines. Yet these same farmers have pigs. So, during times of scarcity like during the dry season, they really have nothing to feed the pigs.

“Our objective is to bridge the gap of feed scarcity especially during the dry season. We are introducing silage making to farmers, teach them how to make silage of good quality, how to supplement it, and how to feed their pigs. This will bridge the gap of lack of feeds and actual expensive feed,” observes Kyalo.

Potential benefits
“The processed sweetpotato residues offer an inexpensive and nutritious alternative feed ration for livestock that may increase economic returns,” Dr Jolly Kabirizi, a researcher at the Ugandan National Livestock Resources Research Institute, points out. The roots are a good source of energy and the vines a source of protein but they are highly perishable.

Kabirizi said sweetpotato has potential benefits to poor farm households and urban consumers especially when other crops fail or in specific seasons before the main harvest.

Ojakol’s research has three specific objectives; to determine the quality of silage prepared from sweet potato vines, the nutrient digestibility of sweetpotato silage in growing pigs and to determine the growth performance of pigs fed on sweet potato silage.

The research has four arms: the control is the commercial diet with pigs fed on a mixture of maize brand, omena and cotton seed.

Others are fed on ensilaged sweet potato vines mixed with five per cent maize brand; ensilaged sweet potato vines mixed with five percent cassava flour and ensilaged sweetpotato vines only.
“Our intention is, first of all, to get the right ratios for silage. And I think we are already making progress with the research on the station,” says the principal investigator Kyalo.

He adds they also want the farmers they have trained to take up silage making as a business.
Many of the places, Masaka and Kamuli, have a lot of sweetpotatoes and can easily start selling silage.

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A field of sweetpotato growing in Uganda. Photo S.Quinn/CIP

Silage is made in a vacuum. When you open it, it can stay for 10 days, according to Kabirizi. You can make several drums and open them one at a time.

Ojakol spends most his study time at Kamenyamiggo Satelitte Station, which is under Naro’s Mukono Zardi, where the research is taking place. He has to make the silage and he keeps on recording the weight gain for the pigs. For Ojakol the timing has never been better. “We have no doubt that Ugandan pigs will like silage and farmers will sell it and benefit from it too,” he says with a smile.

The principle of silage making
At harvest, plant cells do not immediately “die”; they continue to respire as long as they remain adequately hydrated and oxygen is available. The oxygen is necessary for the physiological process of respiration, which provides energy for functioning cells. In this process, carbohydrates (plant sugars) are consumed (oxidised) by plant cells in the presence of oxygen to yield carbon dioxide, water and heat: sugar + oxygen = carbon dioxide + water + heat.

Once in the silo, certain yeasts, moulds and bacteria that occur naturally on forage plants can also reach populations large enough to be significant sources of respiration. In the silage mass, the heat generated during respiration is not readily dissipated, and therefore the temperature of the silage rises.

Although a slight rise in temperature from 80° to 90°F is acceptable, the goal is to limit respiration by eliminating air (oxygen) trapped in the forage mass. Some air will be incorporated into any silo during the filling process, and a slight increase in silage temperature is likely. These temperature increases can clearly be limited by harvesting at the proper moisture content and by increasing the bu k density of the silage.

Generally, it is desirable to limit respiration during the fermentation process by using common sense techniques that include close inspection of the silo walls prior to filling, harvesting the forage at the proper moisture content, adjusting the chopper properly (fineness of chop), rapid filling, thorough packing, prompt sealing and close inspection of plastics for holes.

Read the original article by Esther Nakazzi on the Ugandan Daily Monitor website