By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
The Global Cassava Coalition (GCC) has disclosed that over 600 million people in the developing world are now relying on cassava thereby making it to become the fourth most important crop after maize, wheat and rice.
Speaking at a conference on cassava to donors and the international community in Cotonou on Thursday, Dr Claude Fauquet, Director of GCP21 declared that “despite the key role cassava is playing in Africa’s food security, its productivity had remained low (about 9 tons per hectare), keeping the growers in the trap of poverty.
Dr Fauquet steessed that when compared to Asia, “cassava productivity in that continent is more than 21 tons per ha—a situation that gives Asia competitive advantage in global cassava trade.”
The Director GCP 21 maintained that “addressing the yield gap demands more funding for cassava research and development (R&D) from all stakeholders, if truly the world wants to help farmers towards ending hunger and poverty in Africa.”
Emphasizing that the 11-15 June, 2018 conference to be held in Cotonou with the theme: Cassava Transformation in Africa, is one of the ways the GCP21 is contributing towards the transformation of the root crop, Dr Faquet called for participation of all stakeholders, emphasising that the conference would provide a unique opportunity for donors, investors, and policy makers to see and access the latest innovations and discoveries in the cassava sector
Speaking, the French Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, His Excellency Veronique Brumeaux, who hosted the press conference stated that the conference was timely and would go a long way to address the constraints of cassava production as well as proffering opportunities for investors and farmers alike to harness new innovations from the research community.
The Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Republic of Benin, His.Excellency. Dossouhoui Cossi Gaston, said cassava is important to Benin and Africa in general, adding that the importance of cassava would continue to increase as its consumption per capita was high and the root crop is resilient to climate change.
Minister of Higher Education, H.E. Mme Attanasso Marie-Odile declared that ” the Republic of Benin is proud to host the conference.” adding, ” cassava’s development and transformation would offer opportunities for youth engagement which the country and other African countries could tap.”
Ahead of the international conference on cassava, the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21) has called on policy makers, donors and the international community to support all efforts that will bring about cassava transformation in Africa.
The call is coming at a time when cassava is becoming central to food security of over 600 million people in the developing world, and has become the fourth most important crop after maize, wheat and rice.