The Cassava Pommercialization and Processing Programme supported by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and implemented by Farm Concern International has seen demand for clean and improved varieties and the prices of cassava cuttings increase tremendously in East Africa. In Kenya, the price increment was 25% in Busia, 200% in Uganda and 66.7% in Arusha, Tanzania.
The programme has contributed to improved household food security and nutrition and increased income through the marketing of surplus produce as a result of increased production.
Before Farm Concern International’s (FCI) intervention in 2012, cassava production in Busia and Makueni in Kenya, Jinja in Uganda and Arusha in Tanzania was absolutely low. This was as a result of lack of effective systems of availing clean planting materials to farmers leading to over 98% of the planting materials being shared among farmers.
Cassava diseases such as brown streak and mosaic virus transmitted through the infected plant materials could cause losses of up to 70%. In addition, poor crop management and use of popular seed varieties added more losses.
In Kenya, these challenges results to low cassava production which ranges from 11MT/ha as compared to potential yield of 90MT/ha-1 (Mware et al., 2009).
However, FCI’s intervention through the programme in collaboration with other relevant partners has reversed this trend. As a result of cassava commercialization, demand of clean and improved varieties and the prices of cassava cuttings have increased tremendously. Currently, there is high demand for the improved high yield and early maturing varieties that are pest and disease resistant.
FCI tested various approaches for sustainable and cost-effective seed multiplication and distribution systems with various experiential learning. Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization - (KALRO) and University of Nairobi were key providers of improved cassava cuttings varieties in Kenya at a cost of KES 10 (USD 0.10) and KES 5 (USD 0.05) per cutting respectively. The high cost of these seeds was attributed to the lengthy distance from the multiplication sites resulting to high transport costs.
To mitigate this challenge, FCI facilitated the establishment of a sustainable seed system within the community. This resulted into the establishment of 250 village based seed multipliers with close supervision and inspection by research scientists from KALRO, NARO (National Agricultural Research Organisation) and Horti-Tengeru who started providing the cuttings at KES. 2 (USD 0.02) and below per cutting.
Commercial Villages in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda were further linked to these multipliers and had access to improved cassava varieties. At the end of the third year, a total of 40,013,000 cuttings of clean and improved cassava varieties were planted by CVs in 10,003.25acres.
A case study is that of Josephat Okana, a cassava seed multiplier in Tangakona Commercial Village in Western Kenya. Okana has leased a three-acre farm to prepare cassava seeds which he sells at KES 400 (USD 4.70) per bag. He harvests up to 100 bags of cassava seed per acre valued at KES 40,000 (USD 470.11). He admits to have enjoyed good market for the seeds which he mainly sells to smallholder farmers in Tangakona, Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) in Kakamega, Farm Inputs Promotions (FIPS) and World Vision.
FCI VISION : To have commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond