By Mercy Omoike
Lagos, July 1, 2021 The African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) and key stakeholders in the agriculture sector have called for the adoption of ‘Akilimo,’ smart agriculture, to boost cassava production.
The experts made the call at a 2-day workshop organised by ACAI that ended on Thursday in Lagos.
Naija247news reports that Akilimo was coined from two Swahili words ‘akili’ (smart) and ‘kilimo’ (agriculture), Smart Agriculture; a cassava production advice tool.
Akilimo helps small holder cassava farmers to increase productivity and improve their livelihood in terms of increased profits.
The Scaling Specialist for Akilimo Promotion, Dr Thompson Ogunsanmi, said the adoption of Akilimo by the National Agriculture and Extension Liaison Services (NAERLS) was necessary to boost cassava production in the country.
He harped on the effectiveness of the tool in improving farmers’ productivity not only in the country but in Tanzania where about 200,000 farmers had embraced the concept.
“Akilimo provides time-specific recommendations in agricultural production. It is a decision support tool that helps farmers decide whether to invest more or not in fertilisers or herbicides.
“Akilimo helps farmers produce cassava all-year round especially with the application of the scheduled farming tool irrespective of climate change realities.
“Now we want to spread the news of the proven technology in Akilimo that can assist cassava farmers to cultivate cassava effectively,” said Ogunsanmi.
According to him, NAERLS has so far covered about 217,000 small holder cassava farmers in Nigeria and Tanzania.
“In Nigeria alone we have reached 97,000 farmers already using the technology at different stages.
“With the project coming to an end, we want to ensure NAERLS takes up the use of Akilimo tools as a sustainability strategy to continue to help boost cassava productivity in the country,” Ogunsanmi said.
The Executive Director, NAERLS, Prof. Emmanuel Ikani, promised that his organisation would support the adoption of Akilimo.
“We are in support of whatever project, programme, technology or innovation that is about promoting cassava production and development, and I think the country will be better for it.
“This is because the dependence on petroleum has failed us as a nation. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) for the last quarter indicated that agriculture has taken its rightful place,” the don said.
According to Ikani, “agriculture is now number one, contributing 23.35 per cent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and petroleum was not even number two.
“This means we are going back to our senses as a nation. The concept of Akilimo, which entails the process of cultivating cassava in a modern way is the way to go for us.
“At the policy level, we can integrate Akilimo through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, and NAERLS can promote the concept through a wide-scale adoption by our farmers,” Ikani said.
The Country Coordinator, ACAI, Dr Christine Kreye, further emphasised the importance of continuing the Akilimo project by NAERLS and all key stakeholders.
“Akilimo is a nice framework and tool for site specific solutions for cassava producers. Farmers are at liberty to select areas where they want advice for cassava cultivation.
“We need NAERLS to introduce the concept to farmers through its extension services, so as to continue the quest for boosting cassava production,” Kreye said.
Experts urge cassava farmers to embrace smart agriculture
By Mercy Omoike