The Fourth International Cassava Conference in Cotonou, Republic of Benin, from 11-15 June 2018 will bring together 300 researchers, policymakers and more. 

Africa needs to double cassava production to avert a major food crisis by 2050, said the Director of the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21), Dr. Claude Fauquet, during a press conference in Lagos, Nigeria, on 17 April 2018.

Dr. Fauquet described the low root yields of cassava in Africa as “unacceptable” and called on member nations to adequately invest in the crop to change the current yield per hectare.

While it accounts for 55 percent of global cassava root production, Africa’s yield per hectare is the lowest in the world with about 10 tons per ha, compared to Asia where average yield is 21 tons per hectare — or double that of Africa.

Dr. Fauquet, whose speech comes ahead of the Fourth International Cassava Conference in Cotonou, Republic of Benin from 11-15 June 2018, said a “do-nothing approach” would hurt the continent as it would have to contend with more people to feed, and changes in climate that would become more unpredictable.

(L – R) GCP21 Director Designate, Prof. Malachy Akoroda; Conference Communication Coordinator, Godwin Atser; GCP21 Director, Dr Claude Fauquet; and journalists during the exhibition of cassava products in Lagos.

He argued that reversing the current trajectory would demand deliberate steps including greater investment in research and innovations, provisions of a favorable policy framework, accessibility of loans to farmers at single digit rates, and mechanization across the value chain.

According to him, Africa needs to scale out proven technologies including the recommendations on weed control being developed by the Cassava Weed Management Project, improved cassava varieties, and best-bet agronomic practices such as appropriate fertilizer application.

“If we do these, then to double cassava yield will not be a dream but a possibility,” he said.

Dr. Fauquet said while technologies existed to transform cassava, not many policymakers were aware of such technologies, adding that the forthcoming Fourth International Cassava Conference with the theme ‘Cassava Transformation in Africa’ was a unique opportunity that would create an environment for exchange of technical, scientific, agricultural, industrial and economic information about cassava among strategic stakeholders including scientists, farmers, processors, end-users, researchers, the private sector, and donor agencies.

(L – R) GCP21 Director, Dr Claude Fauquet; GCP21 Director Designate, Prof. Malachy Akoroda; and IITA Head of Communication, Kathy Lopez during the press conference in Lagos.

It is expected that 300 participants including policymakers, scientists, farmers, processors, end-users, researchers, the private sector, and donor agencies will participate in the June conference.

Dr. Fauquet reiterated that the aim of the conference was to raise awareness of the global importance of cassava , reviewing recent scientific progress, identifying and setting priorities for new opportunities and challenges while charting a course to seek research and development support for areas where it is currently inadequate.

The Director Designate of GCP21, Professor Malachy Akoroda, noted that the conference would provide an opportunity for African countries to tap the best, current, and most innovative technologies that would transform cassava value chains across Africa. “This conference is a shining opportunity for Africa,” he added.

About GCP21
Founded in 2003, GCP21 is a not-for-profit international alliance of 45 organizations and coordinated by Drs. Fauquet and Joe Tohme of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). It aims to fill gaps in cassava research and development towards unlocking the potential of cassava for food security and wealth creation for farmers, processors, transporters, marketers, and packaging enterprises.

About the conference
The Fourth International Cassava Conference is supported by several major institutions including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas, African Development Bank (AfDB), French Institute in Benin, French Embassy, CORAF, Forum for Agriculture Research in Africa (FARA), INRAB – Institut National Agronomique du Benin, and FAS-UAC – Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques de l’Université Abomey – Calavi, Republic of Benin.  A larger number of organizations will join the Conference, sponsoring special events, travel grants, workshops, satellite meetings, as well as private companies from the different parts of the world that will have the possibility to show-case their products at exhibition booths. The Conference will welcome as many as plan to attend.

For more information:
Godwin Atser, GCP21 Conference Communication Coordinator