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.

USAID project

Cassava plant. Photo by IITA
Cassava plant. Photo by IITA
A USAID-funded project seeks to further increase cassava production in farmers’ fields by 30% in seven sub-Saharan African countries.

The project is called “Unleashing the Power of Cassava in response to the food price crisis (UPoCA).” It aims to maximize the use of cassava to address food price crises in Nigeria, DR Congo, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania. IITA and its national partners across the seven countries will implement the US$5.3 million project.

Dr Braima James, Project Manager, said that the primary focus of the project was to expand and sustain on-farm productivity and the profitability of cassava.

Cassava procesing in Nigeria. Photo by IITA
Cassava procesing in Nigeria. Photo by IITA
““This will be achieved through the distribution of elite varieties and related inputs; dissemination of appropriate integrated crop management techniques to ensure at least 30% increase in root yields; and the promotion of entrepreneurship in cassava planting material supply.

About 267,000 farmers are expected to benefit from the project,” Dr Richardson Okechukwu, Assistant Project Manager, says. “The beneficiary-farmers are currently harvesting 7–12 t/ha across the seven countries but the project aims to raise yields to 12–30 t/ha.”