New Agronomic Advice Tool “AKILIMO” is Showing High Returns for Cassava Farmers
The African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) has carried out extensive research on cassava response to nutrient supplies under different soil and weather conditions for major cultivars using crop modeling and machine learning to develop a cassava agronomy advice tool.
The cassava agronomy advice tool is named AKILIMO – coined from a combination of two Swahili words – Akili meaning Smart/Intelligent, and Kilimo meaning Agriculture, which loosely translates to smart agriculture.
AKILIMO has been developed to provide site-specific recommendations for fertilizer application, intercropping, scheduled planting to produce high starch content, and weed control using the best agronomic practices.
After a series of field trials and promising results from the recommendations provided by AKILIMO, the project moved on to set up validation trials through the project partners to evaluate the performance of AKILIMO. In the 2018/2019 cropping Season, ACAI ran a total of 482 fertilizer rate validation trials in locations in Nigeria and Tanzania comparing site-specific fertilizer rate with control without fertilizer plots.
AKILIMO recommendations helped farmers increase their yields by an average of 7 tons (t) in Nigeria and 4 t in Tanzania, and achieve yield increment of up to 20 tons and 15 tons per hectare, respectively, with high location-specific variations.
AKILIMO recommendations worked best when a strict regime of basic agronomic practices were applied. These included land preparation, weed management, using improved cassava varieties, and planting cassava at the right time. The specificity of AKILIMO’s advice allows farmers to match their nutrient needs with supplies, contributing to reduced nutrient loss for the benefit of the environment while enhancing farmer revenue.
AKILIMO recommendation are tailored to a variety of factors including:
- soil nutrient information
- farmer practices
- available fertilizer blends and prices
- cassava root price
- farmer’s objectives.
The ACAI project is implemented by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in partnership with the African Plant Nutrition Institute (APNI) and several other research and development partners.
APNI Contributor: Dr. Kodjovi (Guillaume) Ezui, Project Manager – Cassava, East and Southern Africa.