CASSAVA INNOVATION SYSTEMS IN SOUTH EAST NIGERIA
The study examined cassava production and processing innovation systems in South East Nigeria. Specifically, it ascertained the level of linkages among actors in the systems; identified actors technological capabilities in the systems; determined the level of adoption of cassava production and processing technologies; identified factors that affect linkages; and determined perceived strategies that enhance cassava production and processing innovation systems in the study area. Five sub-systems (research institutes, universities, technology transfer institution (ADP), banks and farmers/processors) that constitute agricultural innovation systems were identified and the staff in each system served as actors. Multistage sampling procedure was used to select one hundred and fifty (150) respondents. Data were collected with structured questionnaire; and analyzed using descriptive statistics, such as: frequency count, percentage, means and exploratory factor analysis. Results of the analyses indicated that females constituted majority (62.0%) of the respondents; (78.5%) were married with mean age of 47 years. The result revealed that the majority (87.1%) of the respondents had production and processing units while high proportion of the farmers/processors (60.3%) produced cassava and (33.7%) processed cassava. The majority (75.8%) of the respondents had embarked on various training on cassava innovation for high skilled technological capability and the trainings were mostly sponsored by their state government. All the actors showed high skill of human resource development and investment in technological capability for machine and equipment (65.2%). High adoption level was identified with the following technologies: improved varieties (x=5.03), planting time (x=5.02), intercropping (x=4.79), fertilizer application (x=5.12), plant spacing (x=4.64), early weeding (x=4.68) and herbicides (x=4.62). The study showed a strong level of linkages/collaboration between researchers/university lecturers and ADP staff (x = 2.89), between ADP staff and farmers (x= 2.93). The study revealed that all the listed factors affecting cassava production and processing innovation systems were considered important. Most of the constraints that loaded high under each category were: financial factor 1: poor funding (0.778), inadequate credit facilities (0.744), weed problem (0.708), pest and disease infestation (0.685), high cost of hired labour (0.557), inadequate improve input (0.545) and policy inconsistency (0.422). Administrative factor 2: lack of vehicle (0.774), cost of technology implementation (0.730), poor motivation (0.672), marketing problem (0.665). Infrastructural factor 3: cultural belief barrier (0.719), difficulty of harvesting in dry season (0.662) and lack of infrastructural facilities (0.678) and under manpower/skill factor 4: lack of skilled competent staff (0.778), size of farm (0.765), farmers’ conservatism (0.699). The study showed that strategies perceived to a very great extent were: efficient extension delivery system (x = 3.09) and using diseased/pest resistant and high varieties (x = 3.05) among other strategies that were perceived to a great extent that will improve cassava production and processing innovation systems. The major conclusion showed that there were only strong level of linkages between researchers/lecturers and ADP staff and between ADP staff and farmers. Government should also provide human resource development through regular trainings of the actors for skill acquisition. Strong collaboration among actors in cassava innovation systems is needed.