World humanitarian group, the Rockefeller Foundation, Dalberg and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) have jointly launched an Innovation Challenge to uncover innovative solutions to increase cassava shelf life in Nigeria.
This was made known at the just concluded World Economic Forum, (WEF) in Kigali, Rwanda.
The Challenge will provide up to $1 million in funding, as well as technical assistance to implement business model development and product design.
The foundation acknowledged the fact that Nigeria is the world’s largest cassava producer, accounting for more than 20 per cent of global production – more than 50 million tons annually, grown by nearly 30 million smallholder farmers. Yet the crop has a very short shelf life and if unprocessed it will spoil within 24-72 hours after harvesting.
Cassava is critical for food security in Africa. It is the main source of nutrition for around half of the continent’s population, or 500 million people.
According to the President of the African Development Bank, Dr. AkinwumiAdesina who was also at the WEF Forum,:
“The agricultural transformation agenda is beginning to open up new income streams for farmers. A good example is the case of cassava.”
The Rockefeller Foundation Cassava Innovation Challenge will consider applications that are incremental as well as those that are transformative to the Nigerian cassava value chain. The shelf life issues arise from some of the following barriers.
On his part, the Director-General of The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr. NteranyaSanginga said:
“We have been working on cassava improvement and value chain development for many years from our base in Ibadan, Nigeria and our substations all over sub-Saharan Africa. We are very excited about the potential of this Challenge to bring to light innovations but also to get these innovations into the hands of smallholder farmers in Nigeria in a sustainable way.”
“The Rockefeller Foundation has a long history of supporting agricultural innovation and enhancing food security and farmer income,” the Managing Director of The Rockefeller Foundation Africa Regional Office, MamadouBiteye said.
“Our Yield Wise Initiative, launched earlier this year, is committed to halving postharvest loss on the continent, and enhancing the shelf life of cassava will be key to achieving this goal, while having a significant positive impact on the lives and livelihoods of farmers and their families.”