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At BASICS cassava workshop, farmers list challenges


Commercial Cassava farmers, commonly called Basics Village Seed Entrepreneurs (VSEs) have identified lack of access to needed land; inability to get loans, farming inputs, chemicals, mechanicals and timely technical information as impediments to massive cassava production in their states.

The VSEs, numbering 50 and drawn from Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Imo States, which falls under the South East and South South ecological zone, who disclosed this after a one-day workshop, held under the auspices of the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike, Abia State, facilitated by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) under the Building an Economically, Integrated Seed System for Cassava in Nigeria (BASICS), added that bad roads, and insecurity due to herders threats, among others are affecting their productivity.

They pleaded with appropriate authorities to address the challenges, to pave way for massive production of cassava, which they stressed, has multiple positive implications on the growth of the country.

While declaring the workshop open at Kolping Conference Center, Umuahia, NRCRI Acting Executive Director, Prof. Ukpabi Joe Ukpabi, represented by Director- Farming Systems Research and Extension, Dr. Godwin Asomugha said BASICS project purpose was to develop a sustainable cassava seed value chain in Nigeria, characterised by the commercial production and dissemination of cassava planting materials, adding that the project envisages benefits to farmers and the industry through higher returns from the use of clean planting materials of superior quality that are made accessible to farmers at the right time and at appropriate price.
“BASICS project was initiated and funded by BMGF to develop a sustainable seed syste via commercial sale of cassava planting material that is produced with high quality standard that are certified by the National Seed Council.”

Team Leader of the BMGF project in NRCRI, Dr. Joseph Onyeka said the workshop was one of the activities used to equip selected lead farmers at the village level with capacity to become VSEs, sourcing early-generation cassava seeds from Foundation Seed Producers and selling them to farmers in their vicinity.

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