In Cameroon, one of the foods that grows best is cassava. But farmers struggle with low yields because of pests and diseases that damage crops, making each harvest much more labor intensive than they are worth.
“Farmers are spending more on planting materials and field maintenance to grow cassava and they are unable to make profit from the poor harvests,” says Emmanuel Njukwe, Chief of Service for the Crop Improvement and Utilization Unit at The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). “They are fighting an expensive battle against pests and diseases.”
To help make the battle a little less labor intensive and financially costly, IITA, in partnership with the Cameroon Government National Program for Roots and Tuber Development (PNDRT), is developing and introducing improved varieties of cassava with resistance to major pests and diseases to increase production.
IITA and PNDRT are also training farmers in post-harvest processing techniques to improve quality and add value to products farmers have to sell and connecting those farmers to high-paying enterprises and markets.