UPoCA gives farmers a lifeline

Cassava value addition is helping African farmers increase their income, and improve livelihoods and food security through a USAID-funded project called Unleashing the Power of Cassava (UPoCA).

Implemented in seven African countries—Nigeria, DR Congo, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Sierra Leone—by IITA, the project has benefited thousands of farmers in these countries.

In Sierra Leone, the Tongea Women farmers in Sandeyalu community formed the Tongea women’s development association comprised of 54 women and 4 men.

Through the IITA-UPoCA project, a cassava microprocessing center was subsequently inaugurated, providing farmers with a financial window of opportunity. Incomes from USAID projects such as UPoCA have helped the people of Sandeyalu in rebuilding their community after years of civil unrest.

This success story echoes across other countries such as Nigeria, DR Congo, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania where UPoCA is being implemented.

In Malawi, UPoCA helped revive a moribund starch factory—the first in that country. Thousands of farmers benefited from improved cassava cuttings, training, and capacity building for processors.

In Nigeria the project linked up processors to farmers for steady production/supply of cassava roots, provided improved cuttings and training, and also helped build the capacities of farmers and processors.

Farmers in Ido community, Oyo State, Nigeria, have more than doubled the yield of cassava from an average of 10 t/ha to more than 20 t/ha. Other states that benefited from the UPoCA project were Osun, Ondo, Ekiti, Kogi, Nasarawa, and Benue states.

Farmers say the project has increased the production of cassava with the availability of improved cassava stems, making food more secure and generating wealth.

Apart from boosting the productivity of cassava in the project areas and maximizing the use of the root crop, the project is also promoting food security and improving the incomes of women farmers and processors in particular, and African farmers in general.