Director for Agriculture, African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Martin Fregene has said that if the Cassava sector is properly repositioned, it is capable of saving the African continent about $1.2b, which can be redirected to the continent’s domestic economies. He disclosed this at the recently concluded fourth International conference on cassava, organized by the Global Cassava Partnerships for the 21st Century (GCP21), in Cotonou, Republic of Benin.
To achieve this, the AfDB promised to invest $120m in the next two to three years to boost productivity and transform cassava and eight other commodities in the continent.
The other commodities include, rice, maize, sorghum/millet, wheat, livestock, aquaculture, high iron beans, and orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.
“Transforming cassava on the African continent would help African nations to cut imports and redirect about $1.2bn into African domestic economies.”
The conference was attended by more than 450 local and international partners in the cassava sector, coming from research and development organizations, government, farming community, and the private sector.
AfDB’s investment in cassava came at a time when African governments are scaling up efforts to end food imports and create wealth.
Fregene said cassava is a strategic crop for Africa’s food security and wealth creation for youth, and women, adding that “another dimension to the importance of cassava is in nutrition where cassava can enhance the nutrition of children directly or as feed for poultry and other livestock.”
With the largest volume of cassava coming from Africa, cassava supports more than 350 million people in Africa.
The Minister of Agriculture, Republic of Benin, Dr. Gaston Dossouhoui said cassava remained the cheapest staple consumed by Africans, adding that “addressing the constraints of cassava production will have a positive impact on African farmers.”
He lauded President of the AfDB, Dr. Akin Adesina for his commitment of investing in agriculture and cassava, in particular.
Deputy Director General for Partnerships for Delivery, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr. Kenton Dashiell, said unlocking the potential of cassava required partnerships and close collaboration of partners to address the constraints facing cassava.