Cassava stem demand exceeds N10b, partners harp on integration
Efforts to develop cassava seed system would help Nigeria to transform cassava and meet the growing demand for cassava seeds of about N10 billion from growers, experts from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) and National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) have said.
In 2020, the Central Bank of Nigeria-midwifed a programme to develop cassava seed growers on 100,000 hectares across the country, created a huge demand for improved and disease-free planting materials that surpassed supply.
“Last year, the demand for certified cassava stems from cassava growers was estimated at N10 billion. Unfortunately, this opportunity was not fully taken by farmers as it was difficult to get certified stems of improved varieties,” Dr Alfred Dixon, IITA Director for Development &Delivery, who led a delegation of experts, said during a visit to the Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Muhammad Nanono, in Abuja recently.
The visit was coordinated in the framework of the IITA-managed project known as the Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System, phase 2 (BASICS-II), provided opportunity for experts to draw attention of high-level decision makers to the untapped opportunity that cassava seed system offers in terms of food security, jobs and income generation.
Dr Dixon noted that IITA, through the BASICS-II project, was already working with partners and farmers to tap the opportunity, explaining that the project was creating a formal seed system for cassava that links breeder seeds with foundation seed producers and foundation seed producers to commercial seed entrepreneurs.
“The commercial seed producers will thereafter sell to the cassava root producers…and cassava root producers will subsequently process into various end products or sell surplus roots to processing industries in the country. In this fashion, we will be creating jobs and income generation opportunities for young people that will serve as seed entrepreneurs and modern producers of cassava. Furthermore, the use of certified seeds will increase the national productivity of cassava,” he added.
Dr Dixon also called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to support the IITA Go Seeds and NRCRI Umudike Seed—two Early Generation seeds companies that are imperative for sustainable seed production that will feed the demand pool for commercial seed producers.
He made a strong case for greater collaboration between FMARD andIITA and national partners – NASC and NRCRI, and called on the government to scaleout the BASICS-II project model to other cassava growing States as currently the project is working in Benue, Kogi, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Oyo and Delta States.
“Thirdly, we are appealing that the government should ensure that only certified seeds by NASC are procured from the Commercial Seeds Entrepreneurs. Lastly, you may recallthe great contributions of IITA in the previous Presidential Initiatives on Cassava where we formed National consortia that successfully prevented the entrance of the devastating Uganda variant of the Cassava Mosaic Disease into the country…,” he added.
The Executive Director, NRCRI, Prof. Ukpabi Joseph Ukpabi, said the collaboration with IITA had been beneficial to the country, adding that the partnership made Nigeria the largest producer of cassava.