Experts urge collaborations in cassava R&D to tackle food insecurity
Researchers and policymakers joined smallholder farmers at a forum in Cameroon on December 6-9 to discuss the challenges and opportunities in cassava farming. Cassava is an important food and nutrition security crop in Africa. According to the Nigeria-based International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), one of the organisers of the forum, nearly every person in Africa eats around 80 kilogrammes of cassava a year. The crop provides around 37% of dietary energy needs of most Africans.
Being an important food and nutrition security crop in the region, experts said improving the cassava value chain through collaborations in research and development would promote innovation and help address the challenges of nutrition insecurity such as stunting in children. It was observed that cassava has a lot of nutritive value with its leaves rich in vitamin A and minerals such as potassium, which could help address stunting problems.
According to delegates also noted that ICTs such as radio, mobile phones and the internet are helping smallholder farmers. For instance, smallholder farmers in Congo use mobile phones to get information on the appropriate crop varieties for the soils and climatic conditions. Cameroonian smallholder farmers use the internet to access microlending platforms. As such, development actors were enjoined to invest more in ICTs to help smallholders access useful information to boost productivity.
The forum was organised by Netherlands’ Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) in partnership with United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and IITA. showing that only 141 candidates scored an A out of a total 577,253 candidates who wrote the examination for completion of secondary education last year. The results represent a 94.8% decline from the 2,685 candidates who scored an A in 2015.
According to the Education Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiang'i, the drop in performance was due to the clampdown on examination malpractices. The results of 5,101 candidates were cancelled in 2015 due to a high rate of irregularities. Mitiang’i said no results were cancelled last year.
The number of candidates who scored Aalso dropped to 4,645 from 12,069 in 2015, while those who scored B+ reduced by 50% to 10,972, compared to the previous year's figure. Only 88,929 students scored between A and C+ (plus) in the 2016 KCSE examination.
“All candidates who scored between grade A and C+ will be absorbed in universities," Matiang'i said.