20 Apr Delivering technologies to farmers’ organizations for sustainable cassava and maize production
Several cassava and maize genotypes have been developed by the IITA cassava breeding unit in Nigeria focused on improving root yields, starch content, resistance/tolerance for major pests and diseases, nutritional content (e.g., higher provitamin A content), and other characteristics desired by the cassava-based industry. The deployment of these new varieties into Cameroon required a basic understanding of their performance (root yield and stability, nutritional quality of yellow-root genotypes, and response to pests and diseases) in relation to contrasting environments. Selected varieties would then be disseminated through development projects like the Agricultural Investment and Market Development Project (PIDMA) in Cameroon.
PIDMA is a joint World Bank/Cameroon government operation that aims at transforming the low productivity and subsistence-oriented cassava, maize, and sorghum subsectors into commercially oriented and competitive value chains that are inclusive of smallholder farmers, sustainable, and resilient to climate change, and create rural employment. IITA and PIDMA signed a partnership agreement to ensure that smallholder farmers benefit from gender-equitable interventions. The aim is to provide eligible smallholder cooperatives with technologies for sustainable production such as improved pre-foundation and foundation cassava seedlings and maize (including biofortified varieties) with the following characteristics: high yielding, disease-resistant, and adapted to targeted production zones.
The project aims to improve the competitiveness of maize, sorghum, and cassava value chains and the access of beneficiary farmers’ groups (including women and youths who are direct beneficiaries) to value chain finance and quality food. This is achieved by addressing challenges related to low productivity of cassava and maize landraces, vitamin A deficiency yield loss caused by emerging pests and diseases, and low soil fertility.
The project is implemented in collaboration with PIDMA, Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (IRAD)-Cameroon, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MINADER).
Successes recorded include the introduction of 17 cassava and 13 maize genotypes from IITA-Ibadan which were evaluated in multilocation trials conducted with the national research institute IRAD
From the trials, five cassava genotypes that had an average fresh root yield between 25 and 30 t/ha in four agroecologies, and two maize genotypes with yield between 2.5 and 3.5 t/ha in two agroecologies were selected. Average fresh cassava root yield for the 17 improved varieties over two cropping seasons was 26.9 ± 0.98 t/ha against 16.65 ±1.23 t/ha for the best local variety (Fig 2). In 2018, 4,395,000 cassava cuttings and 8 t of improved maize seeds of the selected genotypes (including biofortified varieties) were delivered to 37 farmer groups. The cumulative number of improved basic cassava cuttings supplied by IITA to the project for subsequent multiplication into certified seeds is estimated at 8,525,000. Cassava yields in PIDMA cooperatives increased from eight t/ha in 2014 (baseline study) to 21.75 t/ha, against an expected project target value of 20 t/ha (108.8%). Maize yield increased from 1.5 t/ha to 3.8 t/ha against an expected target value of 4 t/ha (95%).
Distribution of improved cassava multiplication sites in Cameroon, PIDMA project
With the nutrition component, biofortified cassava genotypes were selected for having mean total carotenoid content in fresh yellow roots reaching 10.96 µg/g with genotype I070593. In collaboration with CIRAD, the processing of this yellow cassava into a local cassava-based food (fufu) was successfully conducted in the east region where vitamin A deficiency is among the highest in the country.
Field surveys and trials were carried out to advise the project on emergent pests and diseases, and soil fertility management in maize and cassava production systems. Results showed (1) various strains of the cassava mosaic virus was mapped in different cassava production basins and in cooperative farms, with lower incidence recorded for improved varieties (9%) compared to local varieties (79%); (2) none of the samples collected was tested positive for the cassava brown streak disease; (3) the distribution of the fall armyworm was mapped in the country with the identification of strains and host plants1; (4) five booklets and five brochures on sustainable cassava and maize production and integrated pest management were developed and distributed to cooperatives.
Further research could be conducted on the Provitamin A (PVA) cassava introduced in rural communities to (1) evaluate the effect of cassava pests and diseases on PVA content, (2) assess the effect of processing technologies on PVA retention, and (3) understand the drivers of adoption of PVA cassava among farming households.
- Fotso Kuate et al. 2018. AMMI analysis of cassava response to contrasting environments: case study of genotype by environment effect on pests and diseases, root yield, and carotenoids content in Cameroon. Euphytica 214:155
- WFP Cameroon Country Brief, May 2018
- Fotso Kuate, A., R. Hanna, A.R.P Dontsop Fotio, A. Fomumbod Abang, S. Nanga Nanga, S. Ngatat, M. Tindo, C. Masso, R. Ndemah, C. Suh and K.K.M. Fiaboe. 2019. Spodoptera frugiperda Smith (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in Cameroon: case study on its distribution, damage, pesticide use, genetic differentiation and host plants. Plos One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0215749