GIZ unveils 60 cassava commercial seed entrepreneurs
The GIZ-funded Cassava and Maize Value Chain Project has unveiled 60 cassava commercial seed entrepreneurs in Ogun and Oyo states, as part of its efforts to revamp the seeds system and create jobs in local communities.
The project, which is under the Green Innovation Centres of GIZ was created in response to COVID-19 induced economic meltdown, which affected the seeds system of different crops including cassava; and the livelihoods of farmers, especially women and youths that depend on the root crop.
Using the BASICS model, researchers screened and selected the commercial seed entrepreneurs and linked them to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) GoSeed — an early generation seed company at the IITA — for the procurement of healthy cassava seeds of improved varieties.
According to the IITA Project Leader, Dr. Godwin Atser: “The project is establishing a sustainable seed system for cassava in these key states — Oyo and Ogun — and would also serve as a model to other states.”
Last farming season, prices of cassava stems rose from N400 to N1,500 per bundle. The prices were partly driven by increased demand for improved varieties from growers and disruptions caused by COVID-19 pandemic.
The Cassava and Maize Value Chain project working with resource-constrained farmers facilitated the planting of over 1.2 million of improved cassava cuttings on 60.95 hectares.
IITA Component Lead for Cassava Seed Systems, Dr. Mercy Diebiru-Ojo, said the intervention offered hope for increased income for farmers and food security in the country.
According to the Project Support Officer, Mr. Patrick Akpu, “the farmers applauded the project as one of the best things that has happened to them as it is very practical and involving.”
In 2020, demand for improved disease-free cassava stems was between N6b to N10b after the Central Bank of Nigeria approved the use of improved stems.
Esther Solomon, one of the entrepreneurs, who grow Foundation Seeds, said: “Investment in cassava seeds makes a good business decision for cassava farmers.”
With the cassava seed farm, I have the option of expanding my hectarage, as well as selling stems to other farmers in alignment with National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) standards.”
Last year, Solomon was among those that were looking for improved stems to buy after she partook in the GIZ Farmer Business School and today, she is grateful for initiative.