African farmers need to leverage science-driven innovations to achieve triple of their current cassava harvest per hectare by 2050, The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has said.
This means the continent could churn out about 30 tonnes of cassava per hectare compared to the average nine tonnes.
Claude Fauguet, director, Global Cassava Partnership (GCP21), speaking on the 4th International Cassava Conference coming up in Benin Republic, said adopting better practices would not only help the continent prepare for its growing population demand but also be at par with foreign counterparts, including Latin America and Asia, who currently produce 12 tonnes and 22 tonnes per hectare, respectively.
“Africa needs a transformation in the cultivation of cassava; otherwise there will be a major food problem by 2050 if cassava remains less than 10 tonnes per hectare.
We need to change the yield of cassava. Cassava is grown in 106 countries. Africa is 55 percent while Latin America and Asia grow 12 and 33 percentages. To improve yield per hectare does not necessarily mean to apply mechanisation but to improve the overall system from the soil, the seeds or stem, weed control and others. It is proven that when you properly weed at day 60, the yield will improve, so, we need to adopt good agricultural practices to ensure that we feed our population,” he said.
Fauguet said that though Nigeria was a big weight in the production of cassava in the world, it struggles to meet cassava needs of Nigerians.
Citing the example of the Benin Republic, which currently produced more cassava per head than Nigeria, he said Nigeria’s production margin was higher but inadequate in comparison to its population.
The international cassava conference titled: “Transformation of Cassava in Africa”, will showcase the possibilities in cassava industry and attract investors as well as heavy wigs in the cassava value chain.