Article written

  • on 26.09.2012
  • at 10:16 AM
  • by Staff

Côte d’Ivoire – New Cassava Varieties Bring Women Autonomy 0

ABIDJAN – Women farmers in Côte d’Ivoire are achieving greater autonomy and economic independence thanks to new varieties of cassava.

Cassava is an important staple food in this West African country according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, second only to yams, a similar starchy tuber.

Farmers in the southern and eastern parts of the country have taken up three high-yielding varieties of cassava, known as Bocou 1, 2 and 3, which are resistant to disease and pests, according to Boni N’zué, the coordinator of the Cassava Project, an initiative launched in 2008 by the country’s National Centre for Agricultural Research.

“They can produce 32 to 34 tonnes per hectare per year, compared to five tonnes per hectare from traditional cassava varieties,” he told IPS.

Eight years ago, when her family’s 10 hectare landholding in the southern village of Dabou was divided up, Henriette Adou was allocated a one-hectare plot. The 35-year-old farmer began cultivating it, but when her efforts in the 2007-2008 season produced a harvest of less than three tonnes, she gave up farming for a year.

“But friends advised me to switch to the new cassava varieties and I tried them out in 2009-2010. The results have been even better than I hoped,” Adou told IPS.

Her 2010 harvest of the Bocou 1 variety amounted to 33 tonnes. In 2011 she planted both Bocou 1 and 2 and harvested more than 65 tonnes. With cassava selling for around 48 dollars per tonne, her income came to 3,000 dollars last year.

Now Adou is thinking about expanding her field. “I asked my brothers to let me farm another hectare, but only one of them agreed. The others refused, saying that I’m not entitled to any more than what I got when the land was divided up,” she said.

Before leaving for the fields, Adou told IPS she had put money aside for a house which she hopes to finish building after the sale of her harvest next year. “I’m putting it up at my own pace because I’ve become the head of the family,” she said with a smile.

Her ambitions go beyond simply selling more cassava. Adou wants to set up an operation to process and market various cassava products, especially attiéké – a popular food in Côte d’Ivoire and neighbouring countries for which a pungent, tasty fufu is made by peeling, boiling and fermenting cassava, which is then drained, dried and steamed.

“I hope to get started processing cassava within the next two years,” she told IPS.

Albertine Niamien, 37, is already further along that road. A member of the Association of Women Attiéké Producers (APAD), she also attributes her good fortune to new cassava varieties.

“It’s three years now since I started planting Bocou 1 and 2. When I took over three hectares of family land, everyone supported me. We trained two teams of five – some to work on processing and others on marketing,” Niamien told IPS.

Continue reading on IPS

By Fulgence Zamblé

Picture by IITA/Flickr


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