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Issue No. 2089, 3-7 October 2011


GIS models: excellent cassava & banana regions to become marginal due to climate change (Top) One of the presentation slides outlining the importance and use of GIS; (Bottom) Tunrayo Alabi, IITA GIS Research Database Manager, during the IARSAF seminar on the collection and use of GIS data in agricultural research.

Regions across West Africa where cassava and banana now excellently thrive may become less suitable for the growth of these two crops by 2080, no thanks to climate change. In a six-scale ranking by CSIRO (Australia Climate Change Model) and HADCM3 (United Kingdom Climate Change Model)—excellent, very suitable, suitable, marginal, very marginal, and not suitable—, researchers predict areas that are presently classified as excellently

suitable will be downgraded and become less suitable by 25-30%. Also areas where these crops presently perform marginally may expand across the region by 15-20%, a situation that may force farmers to adapt to new cropping systems and consequently affect the productivity of these crops. In his presentation at the IARSAF seminar on the topic: ‘Collection and use of Geospatial and Meteorological Data in Agricultural Research,’ Tunrayo Alabi, IITA GIS Research Database Manager, said such modeling have made GIS an important aspect of modern research. Consumed by millions of people across Africa, cassava and banana are preferred by farmers due to their resilience to adverse weather and contribution to food security. Predictions about the performance of these crops in the future will help in providing options to tackle the challenges ahead.

Alabi, who was presenting on behalf of the Geospatial Laboratory, explained that GIS (Geographic Information System) as a discipline is one of the major component of Geotechnology, with other two components of Global Positioning System and Remote Sensing. According to Alabi, GIS which is an instrument for implementing geographic thinking is a system whose key strength lies in its ability to turn data into finished refined information to answer questions of various kinds. He said the instrument had been used by IITA to develop crop suitability maps for targeting of high productivity zones for improved varieties based on biophysical and socioeconomic factors, plant disease monitoring and modelling like cassava mosaic disease, cassava bacterial blight, and soybean diseases, among others. He further explained that generally in agriculture, GIS is used to accomplish spatial queries, proximity analysis, buffering, interpolation and extrapolation for upscaling of research results. He also spoke on meteorological equipment and facilities and how they are also useful to generate data for agricultural research. The IITA Bulletin is produced by the Communication Office. For comments and/ or contributions, please email: Jeffrey T. Oliver (, Godwin Atser (, or Catherine Njuguna (

IITA congratulates new Regional Commissioner for Coast Region of Tanzania IITA, led by DG Hartmann, in had done a lot to support a written message, and Victor agriculture and especially Manyong, R4D Director for cassava in the region. East and Central Africa, have She also said the visit came congratulated Mwantumu at an opportune time because Mahiza, the newly appointed recently, she had a meeting Regional Commissioner for the with a private investor who Coast Region of Tanzania. was setting up a starch factory Manyong told Mahiza that in the region and would IITA was very pleased with the require 40 tons of cassava appointment and looked forward per day. She requested for to working more closely with the institute’s support to her in the region, one of the increase productivity in the main cassava growing areas in area through dissemination of Tanzania and where IITA is very improved high yielding and active, particularly to promote disease resistant varieties as Manyong handing over Hartmann’s congratulatory letter to Mwantumu cassava. well as to train local farmers Mahiza, newly appointed Regional Commissioner for the Coast Region “We have the technical on modern cultural practices of Tanzania, during the courtesy call to her office. expertise, crop varieties, to meet this demand. knowledge on dealing with pests and he delivered Hartmann’s congratulatory Manyong was accompanied by Abass diseases, and strong expertise on value message. Adebayo, Cassava Value Addition addition and fabrication of equipment. Mahiza, who is a friend and a keen specialist, who requested for a meeting We will be glad to work with your team to supporter of the institute, thanked with the private investor to discuss how promote cassava in the region,” Manyong Manyong for his best wishes and said the institute can best support him. Other explained. indeed she was looking forward to work members of the delegation were Catherine Manyong met with Mahiza when he with IITA to improve the livelihoods of Njuguna, Communications Officer, and paid her a courtesy visit during which the people. She said she knew the institute Bernadette Majebelle, IITA consultant.

IITA-Tanzania hosts visitors from University of Tennessee Two soil scientists from the University of Tennessee, Forbes Walker and Neal Eash, visited IITA-Tanzania in September to explore opportunities for expanding their work to East Africa through collaboration with the institute and other partners in the country. The two are involved in conservation agriculture projects in Lesotho and Mozambique. They presented some initial results from their work on measuring “real-time” carbon dynamics in Lesotho using a prototype instrument on loan from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The instrument is able to measure differences in carbon emissions on a daily basis, which is in sharp contrast to measurement techniques that may require several years before significant changes in soil carbon can be detected. Specifically, they are working in Lesotho to compare differences in carbon dynamics between tilled and untilled maize fields. While in Tanzania, the duo also participated in the Cassava Week, which was organised by IITA and several partners (see related story in IITA Bulletin No. 2087).

According to Danny Coyne, IITA Nematologist who facilitatedtheir visit, Walker and Eash are interested in investigating the impact of improved soil management and soil fertility practises on cassava production, soil quality, and carbon sequestration on the sandy soils of the coastal belt of East Africa. The team also visited potential donors and partners such as the Sokoine University of Agriculture, and research stations in Chambezi (Bagomoyo) and Kizimbani (Zanzibar). The two said that they are looking forward to returning and working with IITA and its partners. This is the second time that Walker has visited the Hub, dropping by the first time in May this year.

(Top) Eash (leftmost) and Walker (middle) chatting with Beed, Manyong, and Kanju after the presentations at the Tanzania Office; (Bottom) The prototype equipment used for measuring “real-time” carbon dynamics in Lesotho.

IITA Bulletin No. 2089  

IITA Bulletin Issue No. 2089, covering week of 3-7 October 2011