The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has launched digital tools for Cassava Farmers to help boost cassava yield and tackle agronomic challenges that limits their productivity.
Dr. Bernard Vanlauwe,Director for Central Afrixa Hub at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), says that though Africa is a major cassava producer globally, yet some farmers are producing below optimal (less than 10 tons per ha) as a result of wrong agronomic practices such as poor weed management, wrong application of fertilizers, low knowledge of cassava agronomy and planting of poor quality seeds while Asia are witnessing higher yield more than 20 tons per ha.
IITA has developed smart digital tools to tackle agronomic challenges limiting cassava yield in Africa. With these digital tools Cassava farmers can boost their productivity and make informed decisions. The digital tools are as follows:
1. GoSeed Tracker:
The GoSeed Tracker is a fully featured program for real-time tracking of cassava seed production, including planting planning, registration of seed fields, crop management, harvesting, quality assessment and quality assertion. The GoSeed tracker also serves as a digital platform for communication and networking of cassava seed producers and service providers. The tracker was developed by the IITA Business Incubation Platform (BIP).
2. Akilimo Paper and Mobile Application
Akilimo exists in different formats—as paper-based tool, mobile app and as a component of the digital tools of the 3-2-1 service of Viamo. Akilimo will also be included in the chatbot of Arifu, and the existing agronomic content of eSOKO. A unique feature of Akilimo is that its recommendations are site-specific and tailored towards the farmer’s needs and cropping objectives since the app only advises after obtaining answers to vital questions and as well as the user’s farm location via GPS or manual imputation. Akilimo combines the 3-2-1 service of Viamo. By simply dialing 3-2-1 on any mobile phone with an Airtel sim card, a farmer can get information on cassava agronomy free of charge up to 10 times in a month. All that a farmer needs to use this service is a simple mobile phone with an Airtel sim card and the ability to press 3-2-1 on the phone. The service requires no education and no internet. The Akilimo advisory service on Viamo is available in English, Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo.
This is developed by the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) of IITA, Akilimo is an all-in-one agronomic advisory tool that supports cassava growers with knowledge and recommendations to intensify their cassava-based cropping systems. Recommendations from Akilimo are based on the knowledge gathered from field trials in over 5,000 farmers’ fields, according to Dr Pieter Pypers, Project Leader for ACAI. Akilimo combines this data with weather and soil data in spatial crop models to calculate expected yield increases and revenue gain from investments in improved agronomic interventions. These include customized advice on fertilizer application, tillage regime, best planting practices, cost-effective weed control measures, intercropping practices, and tailored planting and harvest schedules.
The agronomic recommendations were developed by the Cassava Weed Management Project (CWMP) and the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI). The name Akilimo was coined from a combination of two Swahili words: Akili, meaning Smart/Intelligent and Kilimo meaning Agriculture, which loosely translates to smart agriculture.
3. IITA Herbicide Calculator
The IITA Herbicide Calculator is a mobile app developed by IITA’s Cassava Weed Management Project (CWMP) (now ACAI) to forestall incidents of under-dosing or overdosing of herbicides. This simple mobile application, which has been embraced by many cassava farmers in Nigeria, Tanzania and several other African countries, has many benefits. It brings about precision in agriculture, helps farmers to become more efficient and prevents economic losses arising from overdosage of herbicides.
“The app also prevents environmental pollution and herbicides resistance arising from herbicides abuse,” says Prof. Friday Ekeleme, Principal Investigator on Weeds under ACAI.
The App helps farmers and spray service providers to estimate correctly, the quantity of herbicides to be added to knapsack sprayers and promotes the effectiveness of herbicides. The herbicide calculator was developed under the coordination of Godwin Atser, IITA Digital Extension & Advisory Services Specialist, and is the most downloaded of the apps recently rolled out.
4. Cassava Seed Tracker
The app was developed by a team at IITA-Nigeria led by Dr Lava Kumar, a Virologist and Head of the Germplasm Health Unit under the CRP-RTB and piloted in Nigeria in collaboration with the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) through the Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Seed System for Cassava in Nigeria (BASICS) project.
Cassava Seed Tracker gives you access to high quality and affordable cassava planting materials is an important part of cassava farming since it affects the performance of the crop. The Cassava Seed Tracker is a web-app that provides essential features for quality seed production and access to quality stem cuttings of improved cassava varieties from the accredited seed producers. The Seed Tracker is available on android app in Google Playstore, and it enables registration of seed fields for accreditation by National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC). It also facilitates the buying and selling of quality stem cuttings of improved cassava varieties from accredited seed producers. This app provides details of improved cassava varieties released in Nigeria, the location and availability for ready access. The map-based curation features readily helps users to navigate for information and access seed sellers or buyers.
With these digital tools in place, Cassava farmers are sure of high productivity and profitability of their produce.