By Sylvester Thompson
The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), an NGO says full mechanisation of cassava farming will increase yields, create market opportunity and bring about food sufficiency.
Dr Issoufou Abdourhamane, the Regional Head of AATF in Abuja said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.
Abdourhamane said that the NGO’s success in its Cassava Mechanisation and Agro-Processing Project (CAMAP) in Nigeria proved that full mechanisation of cassava production could be achieved.
He said that AATTF was collaborating with the National Agricultural Mechanisation Centre in Ilorin, Kwara, on the cassava mechanisation project.
He said one of the challenges the organisation first encountered was that many cassava producers were smallholders, however, they were quickly organised for effective improved cassava harvest.
“AATF thereafter supplied the farmers’ machineries from the planters to harvesters of cassava.
“Cassava is an important crop in Brazil, and that country has developed a lot of machines for its production; so we were able to import the machines and organised the cassava producers for effective improved harvest,’’ he said.
Abdourhamane said that what the Nigerian authorities needed to do was to develop and manufacture “these simple farming equipment since they already had the prototype for ease of farming and abundant crop yield.”
According to Abdourhamane, the farmers only pay certain fees for the services rendered which have nothing to do with any type of profit for AATF.
He said the project was very successful and the farmers were very disciplined and happy.
“They paid certain fees and had their services regularly delivered to them.’’
The AATF Regional Head said they were able to multiply the cassava tubes yield from an average of eight tonnes per hectare to more than 80 tonnes per hectare, which was a big achievement.
He said another achievement was that the farmers appropriated and owned the project, “it was no longer AATF’s project but became the farmers’ project.’’
“And if farmers don’t appropriate, the sponsors and technical people will withdraw.’’
He said that the difference in the CAMAP project was that it saved time and energy.
“Farmers don’t need to pull the root crop from the ground with their hands and with mechanised technique, the yield increased creating opportunity for excess cassava production.
“Cassava production is very tedious but mechanisation quickens the process. Machines will also package the produce into trucks and ready for the market,’’ he said.
Abdourhamane said that though Nigeria remained the biggest and largest producer and consumer of cassava in West Africa, however, lamented that the country’s production had not met the required demand.
He said that the project had been duplicated in six states of the federation.
“Therefore, improved food production in Nigeria will have a great impact on the sub-region than any other place,’’ Abdourhamane said.
He said that the CAMAP project became very successful that their sponsors had to donate additional funds two years ago to import more equipment.
“This was because they were so happy with what they saw on ground,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the CAMAP project in Nigeria aims at improving cassava production, increase efficiency in operations, reduce drudgery and create market linkages for small holder farmers.