Improved varieties are key to cassava productivity, job creation
Nigeria, the largest producer of cassava in the world, needs to adopt a new seed system approach to compete globally and keep the price of cassava-based foods stable and affordable in the country, experts have said.
Speaking at a media parley at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) on Wednesday, Prof. Lateef Sanni, the project manager of the institute’s BASICS-II project, described cassava as the engine of economic growth and stressed that Nigeria must take advantage of the economic potentials of the root crop.
“Countries like Brazil, China, Thailand, Vietnam, and even Cambodia are reaping “gold” from cassava. These countries do not record less than 30 tons per hectare. However, farmers in Nigeria produce less than 10 tons due to poor performing seeds,” Prof. Sanni said.
According to him, “the goal of BASICS-II project is to provide farmers with access to affordable, quality-assured seeds of improved cassava varieties in demand by local food and processor markets through the establishment of a commercially viable seed value chain.”
“We are doing this using the seed system approach called the BASICS model. We are encouraging farmers to adopt new and improved varieties to improve productivity, raise incomes of cassava growers and seed entrepreneurs, enhance gender equity, and contribute to inclusive agricultural transformation,” he added.
According to the project’s Advocacy, Promotions and Outreach lead, Dr. Godwin Atser, “Improved varieties are key to changing that narrative of cassava. Adoption of improved varieties will increase cassava productivity, ensure food security, guarantee processors of quality raw materials, and hinder the spread of cassava crop diseases on farms.”
Apart from its economic and sustainability elements, Dr Atser said that the BASICS model had a job creation component.