ACAI Tools For Cassava Agronomy Advice Are Ready For Nigerian Farmers
The first field test version of the ACAI developed Akilimo decision support tool was introduced to the partners working with ACAI in Nigeria during a pre-launch event held at the IITA campus, Ibadan in June. More than 30 representatives from processors, fertilizer makers, producers, researchers and industrial manufacturers were present at the unveiling of the Akilimo tool that will provide tailored recommendation to cassava farmers to improve the productivity of the crop and income for the farmers.
The Akilimo name is a blend of the Swahili words Akili and Kilimo meaning intelligent or smart agriculture. The tool combines the ingenuity of modern technology with machine learning to give advice to farmers using the simplest of means.
Cassava farmers in Nigeria and Tanzania will now have access to agronomic advice delivered to them via a mobile application, printed paper recommendations, SMS and through interactive voice responses. All recommendation given by the Akilimo tools is specific to the location and cropping practice of the farmer seeking advice.
ACAI Research Assistant Ademola Adebiyi leads a training session with Sasakawa Global 2000 team (SG2000) on how to use the Akilimo smartphone application
Akilimo was received with excitement from partners who have been a part of the development process for the tool from the beginning of the project. Mr Samson Oguntonye, Regional Manager, Notore Chemicals Industries PLC said the company will move with speed to put a fertilizer blend market for cassava farmers based on the ACAI recommendation.
“Akilimo will help us to target our products based on the needs of specific geographical terrains and we are quite excited about it at Notore.” Said Mr Oguntoye
Sasakawa Global 2000 Crop Productivity coordinator Idriss Saidu Garko termed the release of the final version a major milestone in the work that the project has been doing over the last four years.
“We are already set to expand the dissemination of this tool to four more states in Nigeria because we have seen the improvements in productivity of cassava using the recommendation during the research phase.” Mr Garko pointed out.
The Akilimo tool is designed to respond to the most pressing needs in the production of high-quality cassava roots as identified by the partners. ACAI worked closely with the partners during the research and development process of the tools.
ACAI project country coordinator for Nigeria Dr Christine Kreye said the stakeholders at the meeting have been at the centre of developing the tool from the beginning of the project.
“Akilimo is ultimately a tool that is addressing the needs of the partners present here today, as well as our partners in Tanzania. We have worked together to develop and today we are reviewing the results of our work.” Said Dr Kreye.
Onasanya Omolara, ACAI PhD candidate reviewed the paper-based Akilimo tools with officials from the Oyo State Cassava Growers Association.
ACAI partnered with international research organizations including CIAT, ICRAF, IPNI for the implementation of strategic research activities, soil and plant analysis and crop modelling across Nigeria and Tanzania. However, in Nigeria, ACAI worked with the national research institutions FUNAAB and NRCRI for the implementation of field research and strategic contributions to decision support tool development.
The primary and development partners in Nigeria around whose objectives the tools are modelled include 2SCALE, CAVA-II, NOTORE, OYSCGA, Psaltry, SG2000.
The NRCRI director of research Dr Adeyemi Olojede termed Akilimo a cutting-edge solution to the yield and productivity gap that has long plagued cassava value chain in Nigeria. Dr Olojede said Akilimo will revolutionalize cassava agronomy in the country.
Following the pre-launch, the partners will intensify scaling and dissemination activities within their domains and provide feedback that will help finetune the tools recommendations and user-friendliness.