Ex­perts urge col­lab­o­ra­tions in cas­sava R&D to tackle food in­se­cu­rity

Financial Nigeria Magazine - - Development -

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.

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