Services‎ > ‎Case Studies‎ > ‎

Lessons from Household Food Health and Nutrition Interventions in Gender Mainstreamed IFAD Assisted Cassava Development

Margaret J. Koyenikan, Stephen Konkwo and Edamwen Namuna
Dept of Agricultural Economics and Extension Services, University of Benin, Nigeria


The world production of cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) root was estimated to be 184 million tonnes in 2002, rising to 230million tonnes in 2008 (FAO, 2009). Over 40% of this was produced in Africa and Nigeria is currently the largest producer of cassava. Cassava is rich in carbohydrate, calcium, vitamins B and C, and essential minerals. However, nutrient composition differs according to variety, age of harvested crop, soil conditions, climate and other environmental factors during cultivation (IITA, 2009) as well as processing method. Cassava consumption is about 1-4 times per week by over 80% of Nigerian households in most states (IFAD/FAO (2004). The major limitations to increased utilization of cassava roots are poor shelf-life, low protein content and their naturally occurring cyanogens.

Cassava was initially a women’s crop (Omueti, 2006) while other food crops like yam, maize and tree crops were for the men. This could be connected to the fact that women have limited access to fertile/good farmland and cassava thrived in the seemingly poor land apportioned to women. Gender desegregated data on cassava value chain from RTEP PCR (2009) showed that women contributed about 50% to cassava production and transportation, over 90% to peeling, washing, frying and drying and about 70% to packaging and marketing. Only machine operation was dominated by men.

IFAD supported cassava development in Nigeria through the Cassava Multiplication Programme from1987 to 1997 to address the declining production then. The programme significantly increased national production by 300% (Anambra State ADP, 2009). The breakthrough could be attributed to adoption of improved varieties. This aroused the interest of men into cultivation of cassava. Thus more resources were committed to the production of the crop. The IFAD Assisted Root and Tuber Expansion Programme (RTEP) was designed and implemented from 2003 to 2009 as a follow on to the CMP to consolidate the gains of CMP and address associated problems such as storage and processing (NFRA/FMAWR, 2010).

About this period, the WIA unit of ADPs was initiated to address extension delivery to women farmers devoting 70% production and 30% off farm activities (FACU/FMARD, 1989). The overall objective of RTEP was to increase small-holder production of root crops as well as their end-products and thus enhance national food self sufficiency and improve rural household food security and income within the southern and middle-belt States of Nigeria (RTEP PIM, 2006). Women were targeted as pivot to household food health and nutrition Security (HHFHNS) and in line with the objective of UN systems gender was mainstreamed to ensure equal access to and control over resources and benefits. Hence production, processing, utilization, nutrition and health related technologies and information were disseminated. These were channeled through the Women-In-Agriculture (WIA) programme of the ADPs.

The strategy of the WIA programme is that the Block Extension Agent (BEA)- frontline staff for gender-specific activities works with women groups and other aspects of agriculture- production, utilization, nutrition, health-related issues like sanitation and hygiene and schools programme. These BEAs are based at Block/Local Government (LGA) level and they reach out to about 8 WIA groups basically formed at about 8 cells (village/communities) which make up the block. These BEAs received basic on forthnightly training (FNT) basis from Subject Matter Specialist (WIA) who are trained by the resource persons from research institutes on monthly basis (MTRMs). In line with the Trainig & Visit system that was adopted nation-wide.

Tri-term Implementation Review (TIR) in 2005 revealed the formation several women’s groups, adoption of cassava-based protein enrichment products/technologies, several schools-in-agriculture, HIV/ADS awareness, enhanced income, food and nutrition security of households. Cassava-based confectioneries became popular in most States especially South Eastern, Nigeria when the author covered the 25 States for TIR. The field visits witnessed various products displayed by women groups and youth-in-school programme.

After the first Tri-term Implementation Review (TIR) in 2005, emphasis shifted to rural enterprise management (REM) in order to adequately address glut with processing and marketing of especially cassava with processing options/alternate uses. Out-growers and processing groups made up of males and females from five (5) selected communities per Local Government Area (LGA) were involved. Processing centres were established, equipped with processing machines, product markets were created and continuous capacity building by the extension staff (Abia State ADP, 2010; Rivers State ADP, 2010).

As a result of some findings from TIR, RTEP was redesigned from state-wide strategy to community-based (CB) due to dwindled funding of the ADPs, in order to concentrate effort. The CB strategy was adopted with establishment of processing centres and focused enterprise management in mixed sex groups while utilization groups were deemphasized. This became glaring during Project Completion Review (PCR) in which the author participated in the 8 South Eastern States where only few products were displayed during the field visits. The enriched cassava products for income generation (IGA), household dishes and snacks were conspicuously absent. Though the WIA structure is in place due to poor funding staffing, situations they are not functional now.

Are the WIA groups still in existence? What has happened to the WIA groups and members (women) who produced the snacks and protein enriched cassava products? With gender mainstreaming, and prominence of men in cassava activities do women still have the privilege of being focused gender specific activities such as trainings and demonstration as when they were in women groups? How have women fared with respect to access to and control of resources and benefits in the mixed groups operated by the CB RTEP including EAS in HN technologies and informed.

The findings will provide important lessons for MEAS on:
Challenges of sustainability in face of cessation of donor support for projects especially, funding, maintenance of EAS delivery structures-public, private and client system in effective ways to sustain long term benefits.
Mainstreaming gender into programmes where access to and control of resources and benefits will be enhanced;

To document these and other lessons, the case study will

1. Examine how WIA groups achieved the tremendous success recorded in the 1st RTEP tri-term. Seek what has become of WIA groups in the study area and what has happened to the knowledge and skills acquired for possible lessons on sustainability of future investments in local capacity-building/especially women;

2. Ascertain how women fared in women’s groups and mixed groups for possible lessons on gender mainstreaming for EAS providers especially in relation to access to HN information and technologies;

The field work will require that researchers visit the States and communities that are involved in the CB RTEP, trace those women who belonged to the WIA groups and currently belong to the CB RTEP mixed groups to establish the sampling frame in order to elicit information on the different phases of IFAD interventions; CMP/pre-RTEP, Pre-RTEP TIR, Post-TIR/PCR, Sustainability and the future.

Scope of the Study: The eight States that participated in RTEP in South East zone or random selection of four States.

Time Line: August, field work starts August – November 31-submission of Report


Abia State ADP (2010). Internal project completion report. Root and Tuber Expansion Programme (RTEP). Abia State Agricultural Development Programme. p5-9

FAO (2002) Cassava development in Nigeria a country case study towards a global strategy for cassava development. Prepared by Department f Agriculture Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources Nigeria

FAO (2005) a review of cassava in Africa with country case studies on Nigeria, Ghana, the united republic of Tanzania, Uganda and Benin, International Fund for Agricultural Development. Proceedings of the validation forum on the global cassava development strategy volume 2

FAO, (2006) FAOSTAT, Food Security Statistics, Nigeria, available online: and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.

IITA, (2009). International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. Annual report.

NFRA/FMAWR (2010). 2009 Annual report. National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA).p24

Omueti, (2006) RTEP project. Proceedings of a workshop on improved management technologies . Omueti,O. (ed) 2005/2006. IAR& T Ibadan.

River State ADP (2010). Internal project completion report. Root and Tuber Expansion Programme (RTEP). River State Agricultural Development Programme. p2-28

RTEP PIM (2006). Root and Tuber Expansion Programme (RTEP): Implementation manual. IFAD/FGN.p4-7