Cassava is a vital crop for millions of smallholder farmers in Tanzania. Cassava has shifted in status from a survival crop to a staple crop and now to a commercial crop generating an economically sustainable livelihood for farmers which is increasingly crucial to the agricultural transformation in Tanzania. Today, cassava farmers experience low productivity due to the use of low yielding varieties, poor agriculture practices and outbreaks of viral diseases which invest and destroy cassava plantings over large areas.
In fact, it is estimated that the average profitability of cassava farming can be well over $900 USD/Ha with high quality, disease resistant, improved variety cassava. In addition, these economic opportunities will increase with the burgeoning demand for output markets of processed cassava products. To capture these opportunities, there is need for a market-sustainable means of rapid, large-scale distribution of new varieties of improved, disease-resistant planting materials to farmers.
The vision of the BEST Cassava project is to see a Tanzania in which cassava productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers are boosted through an accessible and affordable commercialized seed system for producing quality assured planting material of improved, disease-resistant varieties.
BEST Cassava is a five-year project that will be implemented by Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), in partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MALF). The project intends to enable more than 430 privately owned Cassava Seed Entrepreneur businesses that will directly target approximately 29,000 smallholder farmers and indirectly benefit over 1 million farmers and their households in 11 Regions in three zones (Southern, Eastern and Lake Zone).
Project Quick Facts
Goal: The intention of the project is to establish a commercialized cassava seed system that is institutionalized and has the capacity for optimal expansion after the lifetime of the project. BEST Cassava will be a catalyst for the continued development and expansion of the cassava seed system.
Reach: 430 privately owned Cassava Seed Entrepreneur businesses and 29,000 smallholder farmers
Funding: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Partners: Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MALF) & the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
Project duration: 2017 - 2021.