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Iita: Leveraging Digital Tools To Scale Cassava Weed Management Recommendations To Farmers

Nigeria Student Forum / General Discussion / Iita: Leveraging Digital Tools To Scale Cassava Weed Management Recommendations To Farmers

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Sani Ibrahim
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa,University
Agricultural economics and extension
100Level, Nigeria.
The various digital tools developed by the International
Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to scale agronomic
recommendations and help farmers improve productivity are
currently changing the face and practice of agricultural
extension in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
This assertion was made recently by the IITA Digital Extension
and Advisory Services Specialist, Godwin Atser, while
delivering his contract review seminar titled: “Digital disruption
in the scaling of the Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management
& Best Planting Practices toolkit.”
During the seminar, Godwin took his online audience through
vivid explanations of how the digitization of the project’s Six
Steps to Cassava Weed Management toolkit, created by the
IITA Cassava Weed Management Project, was revolutionizing
the art, science and practice of dissemination and agricultural
extension services.
The Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management and Best
Planting Practices toolkit, popularly called “Six Steps” is a
complete package that addresses all aspects of good
agricultural practices in cassava production, which is helping
farmers to double their cassava yield to more than 20 tons per
hectare from the current national average of 9 tons per
hectare.
The toolkit prescribes best bet practices in site selection,
weed identification, herbicides application, tillage operations,
weed management, plant spacing, post-emergent weed
management and cassava agronomy principles. The Six Steps
have been fully integrated into AKILIMO, a comprehensive
digital advisory service for cassava.
According to Godwin, some of the digital tools created to
scale out the “Six Steps” include: the IITA Herbicide
calculator, an app which helps farmers and spray service
providers to estimate correctly, the amount of herbicides to be
added to knapsack sprayers to prevent herbicides overdose or
under-dose; the Cassava e-market, an online market place on
the Cassava Matters website for cassava and cassava-related
commodities, and an interactive voice recording (IVR) service
powered by Viamo where farmers simply dial 3-2-1 on Airtel
network for cassava cultivation tips. Others are video clips of
the recommendations which extension agents are currently
using in rural areas with the aid of battery-powered mobile
projectors given to them by the project and radio programs
about cassava farming currently being aired in English, Yoruba
and Tiv languages on some of the most popular radio stations
in Benue and Oyo States.
The Digital Extension and Advisory Services Specialist
stressed that now that economies and food systems were
being threatened by COVID-19 challenges, “these digital tools
for scaling the Six Steps can help us navigate through the
challenges of COVID-19 since restrictions to free movement
and human to human contact can be by-passed with the use
of digital technology.”
On his future plans, the dissemination guru said he looked
forward to scaling the Six Steps toolkit and the digital tools
already developed by IITA and working on the integration of
digital platforms being developed by other projects in the
institute.
“These will be done in the framework of the African Cassava
Agronomy Initiative (ACAI),” he said.
The CWMP was led by foremost researcher and IITA Director
for Development and Delivery, Dr. Alfred Dixon with renowned
weed scientist, Prof Friday Ekeleme, as Principal Investigator.
Godwin led the communication, knowledge exchange and
digital extension component of the project.

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