At the CTA-PRASAC consultation meeting, in Brussels, on 19 April 2016.
With global production estimated at 270 million tonnes in 2014, cassava is one of the world's principal food crop productions. The plant has a variety of phytogenic characteristics, in particular its ability to grow in marginal regions with low fertility, to adapt to climatic conditions such as drought that are unfavourable to agricultural production, and to protect itself against certain pests due to its high cyanogenic glucoside content. These qualities have encouraged its use in the agricultural production systems of the Central African countries. Cassava contributes to them by providing food safety and increasing revenue, thereby improving the living conditions of the people. This accords it a prominent position in the rankings of the value chains promoted in the sub-region.
Cassava production in Central Africa between 1993 and 2014. FAO (2016). FAOSTAT Database. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. Rome. Access date: 02/05/2016. URL: http://faostat.fao.org
The Cassava Project
It is in this context that the project for the sustainable production of cassava in Central Africa and its integration into the market (CASSAVA PROJECT) was created with some three million euros of funding from the European Commission and implemented in the countries of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) by the Regional Centre of Applied Research for the Development of Farming Systems in Central Africa (PRASAC), a CEMAC scientific institution. The CASSAVA PROJECT has promoted, amongst others, the introduction of platforms for players in the value chain at a national and sub-regional level.
The consultation between PRASAC and CTA
This is precisely why PRASAC was identified by CTA as a potential partner in the implementation of its flagship project in Central Africa concerning the roots and tubers sector and, more specifically, the cassava value chain. A number of exchanges have been initiated since 2015 with the aim of establishing a partnership between the two institutions to facilitate the development and implementation of the CTA project. More recently, a meeting was held in April 2016 at the CTA's Brussels office with the objective of providing CTA with the information it needs to understand the present context and the prospects for developing the cassava value chain in the sub-region.
The meeting recorded the presence of Dr. Salomon Namkosserena, Director General of PRASAC and of the CTA team comprising Krishan Bheenick, Senior Programme Coordinator - Knowledge Management; Souleymane Zeba, Senior Programme Coordinator - Agricultural Policies and Value Chains; Ken Lohento, Programme Coordinator - Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Yvon Saroumi, Intern - Agricultural Value Chain Development. The meeting revealed the need to focus on issues concerning the organisation of players in the value chain, capacity development, promoting the use of ICTs in the value chain, supporting the functioning of the platforms and facilitating access to the services for the different players. Taking all of these recommendations into consideration in formulating CTA's flagship project for Central Africa should lead to concrete and concerted actions for the development of the cassava value chain in this region. The partnership being built between CTA and PRASAC would undoubtedly go a long way towards achieving this.