Page 1

Partnership for Success Stories from the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative

Compiled by Jackie Christie Edited by Jackie Christie and Nick Phythian Photographs by Carl D Walsh Design and layout by Peta Meyer Published by CRS East Africa Regional Office St Augustine’s Court, Karuna Close Westlands, Nairobi Kenya T +254 20 421 0000 F +254 20 421 0107 Worldwide Headquarters 228 W Lexington Street Baltimore, MD 21201 – 3413

Partnership for Success

Stories from the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative


Acknowledgements The CRS GLCI team extends its warm thanks to those staff and implementing partners, and particularly their field staff and community volunteers, who made this document possible. Indeed the team is very grateful to all of the NGO and research partners, each of whom has played an important role in the collective success of this project at scale and with efficiency. If you would like more information about this document or the project, please use the contact details below and/or visit the website Contacts Dai Peters, GLCI Project Director, Catholic Relief Services, East Africa Regional Office, Nairobi Kenya. Email: Country contacts Thaddee Matereza, CRS Burundi, Bujumbura. Email: Phemba Phezo, CRS DR Congo, Bukavu. Email: Benard Odero, Program Manager, CRS Kenya, Kisumu. Email: Sylvain Hakizimana, Program Manager, CRS Rwanda, Kigali. Email: Elia Marandu, CRS Tanzania, Dar es Salaam. Email: Steven Magige, CRS Tanzania, Mwanza. Email: Adam Okecha, Program Manager, CRS Uganda, Kampala. Email:


Table of Contents Introduction


Tanzania Breakthroughs in Understanding Cassava Brown Streak Disease From a Mound to a Mountain 9 A Partnership for Success: Stories from Tanzania 11 Uganda Success Breeds Success 15 Garden Variety Trials Produce a Model Farmer



Congo Life was Tough without Bugali and SombĂŠ 20 Cassava Helps Congo Families Build New Homes 23 Women Farmers Bring Cassava Back to Kamanyola 25 Cassava Project Rallies Communities, Changes Attitudes Songs and Dance Launch New Cassava Culture 29


Kenya A Helping Hand 33 My Role as a Voluntary Field Agent 35 Raising Standards and Awareness Through the Quality Protocol


Burundi Help When it is Most Needed 40 The (Cassava) Miller’s Tale 42 Rwanda Quality Protocol Helps Rwanda's Cassava Inspectors Communicating Disease Awareness 46





Cassava, a staple crop grown primarily by women, is being ravaged by two diseases — Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) and Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) — which can reduce yields by over 70% and render the roots and leaves inedible. These diseases have led to severe food insecurity in the region, exacerbated by erratic weather and poor cereal yields. The Great Lakes Cassava Initiative (GLCI) project began December 1, 2007 as a multi-national, multi-partner project to address the cassava disease pandemics. The project is led by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) with technical support from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and operates in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Through the project, research partners and a total of 55 local NGOs, consisting of 57 supervisors, 153 field agents and

545 community volunteers, are enabling the delivery of healthy, disease tolerant planting material of farmer-preferred cassava varieties to more than 1.15 million farm families and building the capacity of 3,000 cassava producing farmer groups. This collective effort is helping affected farm families to recover their food security. The project is scheduled to phase out in May 2012. The stories shared through this document are a small sample of the experiences of local stakeholders and implementing NGO partner staff and beneficiaries participating in the GLCI. Each story provides qualitative insight into the project’s impacts. The stories are also being complemented by more quantitative case studies. This document is intended for use by CRS and the implementing partners of the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative.




Breakthroughs in Understanding Cassava Brown Streak Disease by Simon Jeremiah Sato — Research Fellow, IITA Lake Zone, Tanzania — As an enthusiastic PhD candidate working with the Tanzania National Agricultural Research System in the Lake Zone, I focused my attention on investigating one of the biggest threats to cassava, the Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD). In order to do so, I set up a series of experiments in different locations investigating the role of whiteflies in disease spread. On a visit to the Natural Resources Institute at Kent in the UK, I continued the tests to isolate the transmission of the virus. Working alongside other colleagues, I was able to survey the huge amount of data collected throughout the course of the project. I believe we have made great progress, and some of the results of the work are already having a significant impact on the way that the Project implements its primary activity — propagation of healthy cuttings of improved cassava varieties.

Whitefly culprit The results of the work I have been involved in confirms that the whitefly, B. tabaci, is the most important vector of Cassava Brown Streak Virus (CBSV) and can transmit both species of the virus. I also observed that high field populations of whiteflies give rise to outbreaks of CBSD. Controlling whitefly in one field therefore is not the answer if other fields nearby have uncontrolled whitefly. The research points to the ‘semipersistent’ transmission characteristics of the virus; this means that CBSV particles are more readily picked up and lost than Cassava Mosaic Gemini viruses (CMGs), which are transmitted in a persistent manner. The different transmission pattern has led researchers


Where we work in Tanzania


to suggest a different approach to tackling the problem. We recommend that isolation of propagation sites will be effective in reducing CBSD infection in contrast to the situation for Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD), where isolation is not very effective. What is needed is a concerted community effort and sensitization programme to make this process work. Community action — involving the community-wide implementation of measures to control both CBSD and whiteflies — is essential for effective management of the CBSD problem. Knowledge sharing For me the hard work is just beginning as I commence the long task of writing up the experiments. I believe it is important to make the results as widely available as possible. The new knowledge should be able to lead to very practical disease control outcomes. It’s my hope that this small programme of research, supported through the GLCI, will lead to lasting positive impacts for cassava growers in Tanzania where about 85% of the population depend on farming, and the same benefit will be extrapolated to the wider East and Central African regions.


From a Mound to a Mountain by Beatus Mabula — Supervisor, KIMKUMAKA Mwanza, Tanzania — Mr Mikidadi Mpina is a big name in Geita District. He has achieved much despite being born into a peasant family. Today Mikidadi lives in Chigunga Village in Geita District, Mwanza, in Tanzania. He is married with six children and serves the community as an agricultural extension officer. Ironically Mikidadi feels his impoverished start has helped him grow. “I thank God I was born into a family with economic challenges as I have learnt how to use the environmental resources and opportunities to earn a living. Today I’m doing better than so many who think a good life can only be obtained in towns or from businesses other than agriculture.” Cassava is a dependable and historic food crop and Mikidadi and farmers like him have been growing it for a long time in Mwanza. Things changed radically with the onset of droughts and disease. Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) was the first problem to be seen in the area and local cassava varieties were seriously affected. A joint effort by local researchers and CRS, under the Crop Cassava Crisis Project (C3P), established farm based trials of improved varieties in

2003. In all 12 varieties were found to be tolerant and resistant to CMD. Mikidadi recalls the impact of the trials, “I was happy that people were practically learning by observing and assessing the performances in their fields.” Group multipliers In 2008 the GLCI project was established just as the Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) was becoming a problem for farmers. However the varieties which were tolerant to CMD were still in circulation. The GLCI took a new approach by contracting farmers to multiply tolerant and disease resistant


planting materials. Mikidadi was among this group, “unfortunately farmer group multipliers declined during two years of drought and all the farmer groups or individuals uprooted the planting materials for food,” he explains. “I was the only reliable source of planting materials, I therefore decided to put in more effort to make multiplication a business and service to the community” he adds. Mr Mikidadi expanded from 0.25 acres in 2003 to 20 acres in 2008 under GLCI. His progress was halted however when CBSD hit the varieties in circulation. GLCI researchers and the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Agency conducted a National Plot Trial in Mikidadi’s sites; this proved high CBSD infection in most of the varieties, whilst others remained resistant and tolerant to CBSD. Today Mikidadi’s sites have grown to 30 acres and every cassava grower in the divisions of Buganda, Butundwe and Busanda visits him for planting materials. By the end of 2011 Mikidadi expects to produce 160 bags Cassava varieties Nigeria 4 (2) Kachanga (Local variety) Suma (1.91/0067) Blinde (mm 96/3075.B) X- Uganda (15) Isanzu Kabaya / Kyaka Melemeta (mm 96/4619) Mkombozi (mm 96/0063) Nyakafulo (mm 96/5725) Rushura mpya (mm 96/0876)


of cassava which at the current market price will make a total of approximately $2,000. He also expects a large profit from selling the planting materials. With his income improved he is able to pay school fees for his younger children and the university fees and tuition costs for his son. Mikidadi has also constructed a family house in the village. His major investment this year has been the purchase of a cassava processing machine at a cost of approximately $1,600, which will allow him to mill high quality flour ready for distribution to the expanding urban markets. “I have learnt a lot from the trainers who are very close to the day-to-day field activities. Conduction of Quality Management Protocol, trainings of the community on pests and diseases, record keeping, example dissemination plans, purity of the materials in the field, these are some of their concerns when they work with you.” The chairperson of the village group remarks on the transformation of Mikidadi: “He was recently a young boy in growing cassava but now he has grown so fast, as from a mound into a mountain.”

A Partnership for Success: Stories from Tanzania by Geoffrey Mariki — GLCI Supervisor, SADACA Muheza and Pangani, Tanzania — The Sustainable Agricultural and Advisory Consultancy Agency (SADACA) in Tanzania entered into partnership with CRS to implement the GLCI project in late 2008/ early 2009. The project to date has been implemented in two districts in Tanga region — Muheza and Pangani. The major focus of the project was cassava seed multiplication. I spoke to three of the partners to discover their feelings about the project. The farmer’s story… In 2010, Mr Gaudence Mario from Ngomeni village volunteered to establish a half acre cassava multiplication plot of ‘Kikombe’ variety on his farm, after attending a GLCI cassava sensitization meeting conducted in his village. “The project to me was of great inspiration. Formerly I grew cassava of local varieties. Most of it did not survive due to disease. I felt like giving up. When I attended a community cassava sensitization meeting conducted by SADACA and heard of cassava varieties which were tolerant to the diseases, I decided to give it


a try. I established half an acre of cassava multiplication plot of ‘Kikombe’ variety, following the procedures recommended by the experts. To my surprise the plot is one year old and the so-called tolerant variety has prevailed, unlike the local varieties I used to grow. What a great inspiration. The variety also cooks well and has a very good taste. 12

I would like to engage in large-scale production of cassava for food and income generation. I will require help in business skills. On top of that I will be very willing to help train my neighbouring farmers in skills of cassava production and marketing.�

The district authorities story… In the districts, SADACA conducted the GLCI project in collaboration with the Agricultural Departments which are headed by a District Agricultural and Livestock Development Officer (DALDO). Mr J A Senkoro is the DALDO for the district of Muheza. “Among the major problems facing the farmers in Tanzania are poverty and hunger. Helping the farmers to solve these problems is one key policy of the Government of Tanzania. Due to the global climatic changes, the trend of the rainfall patterns has changed drastically in Muheza district. The rains are increasingly becoming unreliable and insufficient. It is therefore a government policy to help the farmers grow drought resistant crops, especially cassava. Farmers had problems with cassava due to two diseases, namely Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) and Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD). The GLCI project came at the right place at the right time. Creation of farmer awareness of the existence of cassava varieties tolerant to CMD and CBSD, followed by helping them in establishing cassava seed multiplication plots for further seed dissemination, was a very positive approach. I have made a number of field visits to the GLCI project multiplication plots of farmer (groups and individuals). Farmers are very happy about the project.

It will be good for the GLCI project to expand to other parts of the district. The next phase should be to help the farmers in production of cassava for food and income generation.” The partners story… Mr Shabani Sebow is Chairman of SADACA. “There have been a lot of benefits materially and nonmaterially through capacity building opportunities. We have been supported materially with bicycles and a motorcycle, mini computers, GPS units, publications (posters, leaflets, booklets) and funds. Education of the staff through workshops, meetings, seminars and ‘Go’ courses on the laptops have increased the popularity and credibility of SADACA amongst the farmers and other organisations. The way forward is to extend to other areas in the Tanga region and to support farmers to see cassava farming as a business and provide the necessary skills to do so.”




Success breeds Success by Sebwato Joshua — Supervisor, NADIFA Kazwama, Uganda — When Specioza Matovu joined Madaali Women’s Group in 2001 it was mainly for social reasons. The group used to sing songs and provide entertainment at community events. As a mother of six children, however, she was acutely aware of the need to increase her income. This, coupled with the resistance from many of the husbands of the other women in the group, reduced their numbers to just 13. Her luck changed when in 2008 the local farmers association NADIFA introduced the GLCI project to the group and Specioza was selected by the community as a Volunteer Field Agent (VFA). She was also selected by her group as a cassava multiplier and was able to multiply three-quarters of an acre cassava stems of MH97/2961 variety. After one year the cassava stems matured and were harvested. She gave

out three-quarters of the stems for dissemination to six group members and 30 vulnerable families in the community. She used the remaining quarter of the cassava stems to plant one acre of cassava crop in 2009. When this was mature she sold 30 bags of cassava stems and received $106. In 2010, she sold the fresh cassava tubers at Ninga and Ddagala landing sites on Lake Kyoga and got $272. Now she has three acres of cassava crop and says she is happy that she is food secure and able to use the surplus for animal feeds and income generation.


Where we work in Uganda

Planning for growth Specioza used part of the money to buy bricks, sand and wire mesh to construct a


poultry house, and her remaining income went towards school fees for her daughter who is in Senior 3 at Kisenyi Lake View Secondary School. “Our group membership has since increased from 13 to 26 members and we are able to invest more money in business activities with the introduction of the Savings and Internal Lending in Communities (SILC) into the group. My poultry and piggery project is growing day by day.”


Specioza noted that there was a challenge of disease since the introduced cassava variety MH 97/2961 has succumbed to the CBSD disease. However she is not too worried, “with the knowledge and skills I have acquired from the trainings on cassava production and diseases I am able to identify the sick cassava crop from the healthy one.” She spreads the word about cassava production and the SILC approach in her capacity as a VFA.

Garden Variety Trials Produce a Model Farmer by Joyce Kizito — PFA, Caritas Luwero Kagalama, Luwero, Uganda — In March 2010 Kiwanuka Henry, a 68-year-old cassava farmer, was selected to prepare a one acre field to host a Participatory Variety Selection (PVS) site for Kamu Kamu Farmers’ Group. As the chairperson of the group, he didn’t want to disappoint the members. When staff from the National Agricultural Research Office (NARO) in Uganda came to inspect the field it qualified immediately. Mr Kiwanuka explains: “We received the team of NARO technicians, CRS and Caritas with planting materials in May 2010. With their help the group planted six small 10m x10m plots. When we planted, I didn’t realise it would be so important to host the new varieties for my group and neither did any group member. I only realized that the material was precious when the NARO team visited me on a regular monthly basis.” Institutional knowledge On reflection Mr Kiwanuka was happy to host the trials, “I cherish hosting the PVS because I have got first hand training from all sorts of experts. These trainings ranged


from the varieties of cassava, cassava agronomy, pests and diseases and then about the variety characteristics”, he adds. He said he likes studying and observing the characteristics of the varieties. He knows which varieties grow fastest and which have a large or small canopy. He mentions two in particular — BAM and 4271 — which have been particularly useful for the farmers in his village. The variety 4271 for example has a high yield, a short canopy, is disease tolerant and takes a long time to mature, thus contributing to food security. The BAM variety on the other hand grows quickly but tastes sweet and again appears to be disease tolerant. Mr Kiwanuka adds: “I would like my group members to get varieties or a variety that suits them, having studied the PVS for a period of 12 months. Our group receives regular support from NARO in data collection and we have even made a friendship with the government scientists. We have a long list of visitors signed up in our visitor’s book.” He explains how his farm has become an inspiration for others in the area and how he regularly receives visits from the area local council chairperson and the government agricultural officers who bring farmers for exposure and training. The success of the PVS has made Kiwanuka a leading cassava trainer in the area and model farmer for the whole sub-county of Butuutumula and the wider Luwero District.




Life was Tough without Bugali and Sombé

d e m o c r ati c republic of c o ng o

Where we work in Congo


by Lutombo Mali — Coordinator, ISANDA Kibe, DR Congo — Traditionally, the average family in Mwenga, a territory half the size of Rwanda or Burundi, would eat five kg of cassava flour and three kg of leaves every day. No meal was complete without bugali, a doughlike cassava paste, and its accompaniment of sombé, the cassava leaves known variously as Na’Tutu, Chakula chetu cha kila siku or Sala ya baba yetu. Women like Maman Nia just had to plant and wait three months before starting to harvest the precious leaves. There was more than enough to feed the families and earn a little extra in the market to pay for school fees and other expenses. Some of the surplus even helped feed Bukavu, where it sold under the name of Soko ya Tubimbi after the village which

acted as a wholesale market for the crop. All that changed around a decade ago with the arrival of mosaic disease. Withered leaves The women went to the fields only to find withering leaves in the place of buds. Where once they harvested three kg of leaves, they would return with as little as half a kg. “I wasted my energy season after season only to have nothing to harvest”, Maman Nia recalls. Mosaic disease was a plague that just added to the problems of Mwenga’s 500,000 people, who were already trying to cope with the ravages of war. Before long, many abandoned the fields and began to scratch a living digging for gold and other minerals.

But at the end of each day, when they returned from the diggings and sat down to table without their cherished bugali and sombé, they felt hungry. What cassava there was came from as far afield as Goma, 500 km away – at a price. Children were the worst hit. As their parents’ incomes dried up, there was no money to send them to school. Maman Nia, who scraped a living from selling a thatching straw known as magungu, had no money to send her first four children to school. New varieties Salvation came in the form of the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative. The programme, which supplies healthy cuttings to poor farmers and teaches them how to fight mosaic disease, introduced new varieties such as mayombe and m’vuazi or cloned varieties such as TME 419, V8, 19 EAR and V12. The cultivation, multiplication and distribution of these cuttings encouraged families to return to the fields. Production increased. Homegrown bugali and sombé returned to the table and Mwenga once again started supplying its traditional markets. Today, cassava roots from Kibumba, Chidasa and Kilungutwe find their way to Bukavu. Others sold in the markets of Kitutu and Kibe find their way to Mwenge’s main city of Kamituga.

Within a year of the return of cassava, Maman Nia was able to send her three youngest children to school. As she harvested her first crop, she cried “GLCI Uishi milele”, which means may GLCI live forever. The GLCI project is managed by Catholic Relief Services (CRS). It works with ISANDA, a local partner which promotes development through self-help, and seeks to ensure that food is readily available.



Cassava Helps Congo Families Build New Homes by Anaclet Kazadi — Supervisor, Caritas Kongolo Mbulula, DR Congo — Two years after its creation, TUJENGE Mbulula, a self-help group, had little to show for its efforts. Members of the association seemed as poor as ever, and their plan to build every family a home from fireproof materials seemed little more than a dream. Today, that’s changed thanks to the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative and a project built around the multiplication, distribution and proper care of healthy cuttings. Take the case of Primo Nyembo. Lack of money forced Mr Primo to send four of his seven children to an older brother for schooling. Today, the money he and the group earn from growing cassava enables him to look after his children’s needs himself, and think about building a permanent home for the family.

Building together Mbulula is about 65 km from the Caritas offices in the Bena Nyembo chieftaincy. TUJENGE means ‘working together’ in Swahili. The group, 11 men and two women, formed in 2006 to lift its members out of poverty. Farmers in the area face the twin threats of cassava mosaic disease, which destroys their staple food, and fire, which destroys their homes Eighty percent of the population lives in homes built from materials such as straw that catch fire easily. On average, fire destroys one in seven homes each year, along with all the family belongings. Mr René, the group’s treasurer, is a teacher. Unable to make ends meet on his meagre salary, he could not provide basic health care for his family. Today, that’s changed, thanks to cassava.


new varieties yielded much more cassava than the traditional varieties — seven to eight roots compared to two or three! Training and best practice are a vital part of the project. Mr René has compared his current production to what he used to produce and uses it to spread the word that mosaic disease is a plague that needs to be eradicated.

New varieties TUJENGE is not the only Mbulula association participating in a GLCI project. Members of groups such as the Association de Dévelopment Twendelée, Umoja and Muungano have all realized the potential of this approach to lift families out of poverty. An estimated 75% of the population of the capital of Bena Nyembo benefits from the TUJENGE project. As part of the GLCI project, members of the association compared different varieties and found that


Healthy cuttings The GLCI gave members of TUJENGE 500 metres of healthy cuttings which the association planted on a multiplication plot measuring 0.5 hectare. TUJENGE then gave 557 poor farmers 20 metres of disease-free cuttings each. The farmers, in keeping with the Congolese tradition of solidarity, in turn gave four other farmers six metres of cuttings each. Finally, each member of the association received 250 metres of cuttings to plant on individual plots of 0.25 hectare. The priest in Mbulula’s Saint Joseph parish says the project started earning money after just one year. He says poor farmers have a continual supply of cassava flour of which they eat about 45%. The rest they sell. As a result, families have an income and the district’s staple food is once again in good supply.

Women Farmers Bring Cassava Back to Kamanyola by Chantal Fatuma Kayange — President of the Femme Lève Toi group Kamanyola, DR Congo — When cassava mosaic disease took hold of the fields around Kamanyola, poor farming families abandoned the crop and turned to corn. As a result, the cost of the staple soared and families had to cross into neighbouring Rwanda to find the flour and cassava leaves that form a traditional part of their diet. Today, thanks to the women of Kamanyola and the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative (GLCI), cassava is once again flourishing around the town. “Before the cuttings had become expensive and rare, now they are readily available and the price of (cassava) flour in the local market has fallen,” says Yvette Bukuru, a Kamanyola farmer. Members of Kamanyola’s Femme lève toi (‘Woman stand up’) group are the driving force behind the project, which aims to provide poor farming families with healthy cassava cuttings and training in cultivating the crop and combating mosaic and other diseases. Huge impact The project has had a huge impact on the lives of poor farming families around Kamanyola according to 25

Madame Bukuru: “We’re very happy to have these cuttings in Kamanyola because with the mosaic disease, the people of Kamanyola stopped growing cassava. Corn replaced it. With the cuttings that the GLCI brought us, 80% of the population has started growing cassava again.” Anna Zabibu, a farmer from Kayange/Kamanyola district, remembers only too well the impact of cassava mosaic disease on her family: “Between 2000 and 2007, life after mosaic [took hold] was very expensive here in Kamanyola. With the


healthy cassava cuttings that we received… I have a feeling of relief and a sense of pride in my household, above all when I return from the field with large cassava roots and sombé leaves for my family.” New business The Kamanyola area chief, Sekazira Habimana, has also seen big changes as a result of the project: “Before, our people crossed the border into Rwanda to find cuttings or flour and sombé leaves; thanks to this GLCI project, our people no longer go to Rwanda for cuttings and cassava.”

Cassava Project Rallies Communities, Changes Attitudes by Muyisa Sivasingana — Supervisor, Caritas Butembo Butembo-beni, DR Congo — Give a poor family cassava cuttings to replace plants destroyed by disease and you might be able to help them survive another season. Give the whole community a stake in the project, and suddenly everyone starts to benefit. “I’m surprised and delighted to see that when it comes to distributing cassava cuttings, Caritas Butembo-Beni involves civil society, the entrepreneurs, the village chief, the clan chief, the chieftaincy agronomist, the community leaders’ agronomist, members of farmers’ groups, the churches and the inhabitants of the village in drawing up and deciding upon a distribution plan.” So says Kasereka Kaikomera, agronomist to the Baswagha chieftaincy in the territory of Lubero. He was particularly pleased to see the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative (GLCI) target poor people in rural areas. “I saw a widowed and handicapped mother from my village (being helped) and you don’t forget that!” he adds. The farmers themselves, such as the women from Association Mwangaza, say they appreciate the way


the project involves the community, organises the distribution process and sticks to it. “We were able to identify the genuine beneficiaries in Buyinga. We only gave cuttings to those who had tokens and who were on the lists”, says Maman Kighoma from the Ovughuma Kokaghala. This way, the organisers ensure that those who get the cuttings have followed the training and really know how cultivate the crop. The distribution process has enabled several partner groups to inject new life into their activities, with a particular focus on the participatory side of things — something that the authorities appreciate. Pablo, the chief of Vutahi village, particularly appreciated being asked to sign and put his seal on the distribution plan. “I think you are the only actors who are open with us about how you plan to help our people. Your documents are clear and spell out clearly the way you work”, he says. Mr Sekera, the agronomist to the Vukondi community leaders, says that the distribution process helps him identify farmers within the community. He takes advantage of the distributions to identify and help those 28

showing the most potential, and has promised to help Caritas with the phase after the distributions. Thus far, all the ButemboBeni farmers’ groups know how to distribute cuttings. “We lined up in a disciplined fashion during the distribution, not only because there were enough cuttings but also because the Baraka group involved us in the organisation of the distribution”, one beneficiary, Maman Kahambu Denise told Malonga, our paid field agent. The distribution process changes attitudes and encourages farmers to become more professional. Those who receive the cutting become responsible for what happens to them. Katoheryo, chairman of the PDL de Musienene association, says the distribution ensures that farmers have the know-how to look after the cuttings properly: “GLCI is really different from other projects because it distributes and trains. Thus far, we have achieved our objective of helping farming families in Lubero territory but the demand for healthy cuttings is huge, and there is a need to continue with the multiplication process.”

Songs and Dance Launch New Cassava Culture by Oscar Hangi — Supervisor, Rural Development Centre (CEDERU) Rutshuru Rutshuru, RD Congo — The Great Lakes Cassava Initiative is leading the fight against mosaic and other cassava diseases by distributing cuttings across the region, but healthy cuttings are just part of the solution. Enter the Rural Development Centre (CEDERU) in Rutshuru. With the help of songs, dances and sketches, CEDERU is spreading the word on how best to look after the cassava plants and how to ensure that the viruses that cause disease do not creep back. Today, the women go through what they have learnt as they sing the songs as they work together in the fields. In the villages, the children repeat the songs and perform them for friends, neighbours and relatives. Their older bothers and sisters move to the rhythm of the Muhogo, the allnew cassava dance. It is a cheap and effective way of getting the message across to a maximum

number of people and the results are plain to see. Attitudes are changing, communities are uniting and rallying around the project and, in the fields, the virus that causes mosaic disease is on the run. The Rutshuru CEDERU traditionally uses actors who perform sketches to get its rural development message across to people in the villages. With cassava, it has gone one step further. It enlisted the support of the musicians of the Etoile du Bon Berger Musica de Kinyandonyi band, who get the crowd singing and dancing during the distribution of the cuttings. The songs are designed to help farmers whose crops have suffered the ravages of mosaic disease. They advise how to recognise the different diseases, how to plant, where best to plant, how to prepare the ground, how to cut and store the roots and leaves, how to tend 29

a cassava field, the best time to plant, the different varieties … The songs and sketches, and the dance music are broadcast regularly on Rutshuru’s three community radio stations — RACOU, RTEDH and COLOMBE. The CEDERU teams, trained by the GLCI, weave technical tips into their songs as they travel from village to village. They and the musicians perform in the local language. For the villagers, the entertainment — and the exchange of ideas — is free of charge. As a result, the CEDERU distributions have become an occasion offering something for everyone. They are: • An opportunity for farmers to learn new techniques before they get their cuttings • A celebration for the whole village: a show in honour of cassava • An opportunity for farmers from different areas to meet and swap stories about their different experiences • A chance for peasant farmers to get together to give and receive • A source of relief for farmers in the target 30

village who lack healthy plant stock • An opportunity to tell whole villages about the GLCI project and the work of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), which manages it. Before the GLCI project there were numerous projects distributing cuttings, but mosaic disease continued to ravage plants in the fields. It dramatically cut the yield, depriving poor farmers of both the food and income that they derived from the crop. The impact of the new approach, which mobilises whole communities, has been huge. As a result, the villagers themselves are coming up with ideas for getting the different messages across. Women farmers in Shinda, a village where cassava is a money-earner, suggested that photos with text be printed to show villagers how to spot the latest threat to the cassava plant — brown streak disease. Thus far, cost has been the major obstacle to the production and distribution of such handouts.




A Helping Hand by Beatrice Otieno — Supervisor, Diocese of Homa Bay, Kenya Kamyada, Kenya — The rural finance unit of the GLCI programme focuses on improving the efficiency of savings and credit delivery systems among the rural poor population. While trying to make financial services more responsive to the needs of the poor, the programme efforts have been directed towards the capacity building of the Saving and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) groups to provide relevant services to the needs of the beneficiaries. The SILC method has perhaps had most impact on women who have received training in entrepreneurial skills, mobilizing community resources and engaging in marketing activities. To date there are over 120 SILC groups in the area with a membership of 2420. Together the groups have loaned out approximately $23,000 with a repayment rate of over 90% at 10% interest. The Volunteer Field Agents, nominated or elected by the group

members and trained by the programme, provide further support and training to groups. The groups are selfoperated and devise their own constitutions and protocols. ‘Ndira C’ SILC group in Riana Division, Homa Bay, was started in 2009 by Jocinta Chacha. The group has 25 mainly female members. The first share-out for the group was approximately $900. This group split into two further groups, which attracted some male members. The combined share-out for both groups is $2,700. Jocinta identifies the secret of the group’s success, “I ensure the constitution is adhered to, I advocate the right issues, a kwero wach!”


Where we work in Kenya


Common bonds Another common characteristic of the group is the number of members who are widowed or living with HIV. In this context SILC is clearly a helping hand. Jocinta, the determined SILC group leader, is typical of the membership — a young mother (she was still in school when she conceived her first child) and a second wife, she is now widowed with two young children. She took her first loan of $6 to buy vegetable seeds, hire labour and insecticide. Immediately after planting the vegetables, her husband passed away. Jocinta managed to win a tender to supply the local school with vegetables in lieu of school fees for her daughter. She paid back the $6 plus the 10% interest from other sources. She is now in a position to borrow up to $80. Last year she was able to pay a full year’s fees of $310 and clear her 2009 arrears of $116. Life is not easy for Jocinta but she has slowly improved her income and is able to support her family with the help of SILC, “I am able to feed my family, buy their clothing and shoes and meet my needs as a woman” she says. “I diversify my income, I am a farmer with half an acre of cassava — myjera (variety), and I plant maize and beans. In fact, I want to be a lawyer or a business lady but for now I find satisfaction in the SILC, my group.”


My Role as a Voluntary Field Agent by Roselyn Amuom, Kenya Rakwaro, Kenya — I am a resident of Wangcheng which is in Nyanza Province of the western region of Kenya. I am a mother of five children and a former teacher. I attended secondary school and teacher training college and went on to teach for 30 years, retiring in 2005. Upon retirement I joined Kanyangwena ‘Big’ and became a member of Nyadwera ‘A’ Savings and Internal Lending in Communities (SILC) group in 2008. I became a voluntary field agent with the Diocese of Homa Bay and have been working entirely with SILC groups. I had been working in community mobilisation before the first SILC group started in September of 2008. After one year the group shared out. Two further groups grew out of this one, including other groups from Homa Hills also supported by CRS. What have been the main achievements of the SILC? I spoke to Mama Joice Okuta, a long-time member of SILC. She only manages to save the equivalent of $2 a

month but as a result she tells me she was able to buy an improved goat, which she is now milking to support her grandchildren. Joice is typical of the many widows and widowers and people living with HIV who are very much engaged in SILC. Others include women like Serfina Mumbo; she lost all of her children and is the main carer for her grandchildren.


Elizabeth Bonyo, another SILC member told me “if it wasn’t for SILC I really would not have known what to do.” One of the male members, a mzee (male elder), Eli Kech told me that he wished the SILC activity had happened before micro-financing programmes and pyramid schemes, which he believes “have robbed the community of their resources.” At the time SILC was formed I had a PVS (Participant Variety Selection) trial plot which was evaluated in 2009. The farmers then came out with Mijyera, MH95/0193 and SS4 and cuttings were given to many individual farmers in the area. I have seen a lot of improvement in food security in the community. After the PVS of cassava we tried groundnuts and found that the small ones were doing very well. As a VFA I have moved from group to group, visiting farmers on their land.


Raising Standards and Awareness Through the Quality Protocol by Rose Ouko — Supervisor, ADOK, Kenya Siaya, Kenya — It’s a dry, hot and sunny day and farmers from Nyadhi communities are eagerly waiting in the GLCI multiplication fields for their cassava crop seed to be evaluated on quality and varietal purity. Most of their cassava crops are 9–12 months old. The point of the exercise is to assess the number of plants that are showing symptoms of Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) and Cassava Mealy bug (CM). The farmers carry their jembes and pangas to participate fully in the exercise working alongside GLCI field staff and Ministry of Agriculture crop officers. Mr Owiti, a recent recruit as a multiplier asks an important question, ‘where do you take QMP’ed cassava tubers and what do you do if the roots from one of the sampled fields are infected with CBSD?’ The other multipliers quickly answer all his questions. The exercise was successful in six multiplication fields. Confidence The farmers have clearly benefited in many ways. Firstly increased awareness has meant that farmers are able to


identify the diseased and infested clones. They are able to plant clean material and minimize further spread of diseases and pests. Secondly, the protocol helps to establish quality assurance and consumer confidence. The rationale for setting quality standards and the management methods that need to be employed to attain them are openly discussed with seed multipliers before they enter into an agreement with the project. Thirdly, since GLCI started three and a half years ago, farmers have increased the quality and quantity of cassava production, which has improved food security. GLCI project staff maintain that the strong collaboration between several institutions, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service, Kenya Agriculture Research Institution and Ministry of Agriculture, has secured lasting positive results for farmers. Not only has it meant that farmers are well equipped with knowledge and plenty of tolerant materials, it has slowed the rate of spread of diseases to unaffected areas and helped reduce the impact of the problem in areas touched by it.


A life saver Nyando district, Kenya — Farmers from Nyamarimba area in Nyando District have every reason to be happy they took part in training to plant new cassava varieties. The climatic conditions in this area are very harsh, the rain pattern is unpredictable and only drought resistant crops and shrubs survive. Six years ago, before the GLCI project arrived, farmers were planting a local variety known as Nyakatanegi, which in the local language means ‘I must kill you’. The variety achieved its name from the high cyanide levels it contains if eaten raw or boiled. As a result of severe famine in 1982, several children in the village were driven by hunger to eat the cassava, which unfortunately lived up to its terrifying name. The main objective of Participatory Variety Selection is to allow farmers to select the best varieties for their needs. The varieties are put through an assessment regime and progress is monitored against specific indicators — yield, disease, performance and taste, for example. Since this approach started three years ago, cassava production has increased in Nyamarimba and other areas. The selected varieties, which the farmers identify as suitable, are adopted for multiplication and wide dissemination. In this area alone there are more than 15 cassava varieties.



Help When it is Most Needed by Avit Mpawenimana — PFA, BDD, Bubanza


Where we work in Burundi


Matonge, Burundi — Niganza Tharcisse knows first-hand how cassava can change lives. Before joining a Great Lakes Cassava Initiative savings and loan group in Bubanza, he and his family ate just one meal a day. Today, the family eats three meals and his wife prepares dishes for their children that once they could only dream of. But what brings Tharcisse particular pleasure is the change the Tuzamurane savings and loan group has brought about in Anita Nindorera, a 42-year-old widow who hit hard times after rebels killed her husband. Before joining the group, she cut a sorry figure wandering about in the same torn and dirty dress. She was so thin that

everyone thought she could die at any moment. Tharcisse, who is now secretary of the Saving and Internal Loans in Communities group in this village 45 km from Burundi’s capital Bujumbura, urged its other members to let her join. Anita took out a loan worth the equivalent of $100, rented a plot of land, grew rice with the help of other members of the group and, with the proceeds of her first harvest, opened a small shop selling different articles. A new life Today, she is able to feed and clothe herself and her four children, and send them to school. Their health has improved greatly. Anita and the family have new clothes. She is confident, smiling and socialises with her neighbours, and joins in all the village festivals.

Tharcisse, who continues to help her, says that, to the surprise of some people, she can read and write, and that she manages her finances very well. As for Tharcisse and his wife, they are both getting on in years. He pays hired help to work their land, some of which he rents for the growing season. He too took a loan worth the equivalent of $200 and opened a shop. The proceeds from the shop keep the family in food. He sells part of the harvest to repay the

loan, and save for his next venture — a project to raise chickens. The Tuzamurane savings and loan group started on May 15, 2010. Members contribute the equivalent of $0.5 a week — of which $0.4 is savings and $0.1 for a social fund. To begin with, the group had 14 members. Now it has 25.


The (Cassava) Miller’s Tale by Louis Condo — Supervisor, COPED Minago, Burundi — Déo, 35, is the proud new owner of a cassava mill. But Déo, a cassava farmer in this village 60 km from Burundi’s capital Bujumbura, has not always been so fortunate. Just a few years ago, he recalls how his world crumbled when mosaic disease, which attacks the cassava plant, took hold of his field, “As a result of mosaic disease, I lost the equivalent of over $300 that I had invested. I couldn’t pay the children’s school fees or their medical bills.” Once the disease took hold of the crop, Déo, his wife and their five children found life a real struggle. “I was totally destitute. Feeding the family became such a problem that we ate at most just one meal a day.” That’s where the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative, which distributes healthy cassava cuttings and provides training in how to cultivate them, comes in. The managers of the project, Catholic Relief Services, work with poor farmers through a range of local groups. The Cooperation for Education and Development group singled out the Twijukiribikorwa association for help.


Déo, as a member of the group, was one of those who benefited. “I received 500 cuttings which I multiplied in my field,” he recalls. “I produced eight tonnes of which I sold five tonnes, which gave me a revenue of the equivalent of $1000.” As a member of the Twijukiribikorwa association, Déo was part of a savings and loans initiative. As a result of his problems, he had become an irregular contributor and even struggled to repay his loans. The healthy cuttings set him back on his feet. “I was able to provide three meals a day for my family, ensure its health care, pay for the education of my children and pay all my debts”, he says. As someone who once again contributed regularly to the savings fund, he also became eligible for a loan. “They agreed to lend me the equivalent of $800, thanks to which I bought this mill,” he says, standing next to his latest investment. Today, thanks to the healthy cuttings and training in how to cultivate them, mosaic disease is on the run. “Now mosaic has almost gone from our zone and the harvest is good”, Déo says. 43


Quality Protocol Helps Rwanda’s Cassava Inspectors by Janvier Kazindu — Researcher, Rwanda Agricultural Development Authority


Where we work in Rwanda


Kigali, Rwanda — The fight to protect cassava and the farming families who depend on it from the ravages of mosaic or brown streak disease takes many forms. For the Rwanda Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), its greatest allies are the farmers themselves and… the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative (GLCI) Quality Management Protocol (QMP). The use of infected cuttings is a major cause of the spread of the viruses that cause the two diseases. Sharing or distributing infected cuttings is punishable under Rwanda’s seed law, but the main problem for RADA inspectors is tracing and certifying the origin of cuttings, particularly from multiplication plots.

The Great Lakes Cassava Initiative QMP changed all that. For certification to be effective the origin of the cuttings must be known and farmers must rotate fields, purge infected plants regularly and work with neighbours to ensure that they eliminate sources of infection and that they avoid planting vulnerable varieties near multiplication plots. Understanding and respect Farmers with multiplication plots undertake to respect the certification criteria. That simplifies the job of the RADA agents and reduces the number of fields that need to be declassified. When farmers understand why their fields will be declassified, they tend to adopt best practice and take steps to ensure they do not fall into that particular trap.

The QMP, which is implemented by the farmers themselves, has resulted in the inspectors being able to declare more cuttings healthy. The GCLI farmers themselves are able to spot the diseases and strip out unhealthy plants. You could even go so far as to call them assistant inspectors. After training, the farmers are able to choose the best sites for multiplication plots. They adopt best practice and learn disease and pest management and start using cuttings from reliable sources such as Rwanda’s agricultural research institute ISAR. A delicate task If all these criteria are respected, the chance of a site being declassified is hugely reduced. The work of the inspector who has to declassify a site is not easy. Often professional and scientific

considerations clash with social and economic considerations. GLCI multipliers understand the importance of producing healthy cuttings and the consequences of distributing unhealthy ones. They accept declassification of their multiplication plots without question, though this is rarely necessary. The Catholic Relief Services, which manages the GLCI project, is one of the few non-government organisations in the country which works well with state institutions. The QMP makes the job of the inspectors easier. Fields funded by the GLCI are well known and can even be pinpointed on a map. GLCI multipliers are leading the way. They are becoming more and more expert and professional.


Communicating Disease Awareness by Bakundukize Pamphile — Coordinator, Caritas, Kabgayi Ruhango, Rwanda — The cassava crop in Ruhango District in Southern Province was highly affected by Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD), producing a much-reduced yield. Unfortunately farmers continued to use diseased planting materials. Many cassava farmers in the area had only a basic knowledge of the diseases that affect the crop and how to control them. A survey conducted by CRS in 2007 confirmed lack of basic knowledge of cassava disease. The survey identified areas for improvement to ensure a more holistic approach in efforts to combat cassava diseases. The review revealed a number of initial and underlying causes including weakness in farmer’s education and information and lack of institutional capacity on the part of


government plant health and extension services. Tuyisenge Priscille, farming in the area where Caritas Kabgayi a partner on the GLCI project intervenes, and who benefited from training by GLCI told me a common misconception, “I thought diseased planting materials could recover themselves and eventually develop into healthy plants if God allows a better planting season”. Prior to the training, Tuyisenge like many farmers believed that CMD was caused by seasonal problems and not diseased or susceptible materials. He eventually joined a group supported by GLCI to understand CMD, its causal pathogen and the way to control it using planting materials from the project which are disease-free and resistant. Along with other farmers, Tuyisenge now knows to select the sources of cuttings they refer to as Imituburano, meaning ‘multiplied cuttings’.

Using media Awareness raising is therefore considered to be a key element in escalating farmer understanding of cassava diseases. Various strategies have been used to reach out and provide information in accessible formats. These include posters and leaflets which project partners such as the National Research Institute in Rwanda and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture have been instrumental in disseminating. Local authorities in Ruhango Districts say that during the planting season posters were put in schools, cells, office walls in fact anywhere people meet. Mugorewera Marie Chantal, an Agronomist in Mbuye sector recognized the role of such materials. “It was very difficult to handle the problem of cassava disease in a zone where cassava is an important staple food. With the


posters and leaflets from GLCI, it was very easy to explain without talking too much!” Use of these materials has increased local understanding amongst farmers and the need for them to engage in multiplying improved varieties. Trusted sources of information One Volunteer Field Agent (VFA) told me that GLCI Farmer Groups are benefiting of the knowledge from the ‘ensured source’. A key tool to support the knowledge base of the VFA’s has been the laptops supplied through the project. The mini-laptops are supplied with offline training materials through the ‘GoCourse’ programme. This allows field agents to study in detail cassava pests and diseases, for example.


Madam Francoise Nyirandungutse is a typical farmer from Abakundamurimo farmer group: “When I saw CMD plants in my field I did not think of any means of control. I thought I would wait for any yield regardless of how small it would be”. She did not make the connection between the increased whitefly and the disease or between the disease and the source of the cuttings she had used. By raising farmers’ awareness of cassava diseases, the adoption of the use of improved variety has increased. Uninformed farmers, still using the local diseased varieties, are being challenged by their neighbours who give them the improved varieties to avoid the continuous spreading of the diseases in their area.

Partnership for Success: Stories from the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative  

In the Great Lakes region of Africa, cassava is being ravaged by two diseases that can reduce yields by over 70 percent and render the roots...