The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA) for the second phase of BASICS-II project set to improve seeds of cassava varieties.
Gbassey Tarawali, the officer in charge of IITA Abuja, who represented Nteranya Sanginga, the director-general of IITA, at the signing in Abuja, assured that the project will deliver a new role for cassava seed producers and root farmers in the country.
According to him, the project gives another opportunity to address one of the major problems that has limited the power of cassava in Africa in terms of poverty reduction and livelihood improvement among growers which will in turn, develop a commercial sustainable model for cassava seed system in Nigeria.
He maintained that one of the key purposes of the alliance by all actors is to ensure the facilitation and supply of quality certified and disease-free seeds to farmers to help Nigerian smallholders improve their productivity and family income.
“Our vision is to see that at the end of this project, we have a commercially sustainable model for cassava seed system that can be replicated in other parts of Africa. Therefore, our model must increase not only farmers’ income but also roots for processors and the industry who will in turn contribute to the socio-economic development of our communities,’’ he added.
On his part, Segun Adewumi, president, Nigeria Cassava Growers Association, said that the MoU will enable the regeneration of various varieties of cassava and ensure more yields and better quality of products.
He expressed his excitement over the new development as he believes many of the utility industrial items like ethanol, industrial starch, sweetener and others for which the country spends hundreds of billions of naira to import can be produced in Nigeria.
Chinedu Ogbonnaya, head of cassava team, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), reaffirmed the bank’s commitment to support farmers’ access to certified seeds.
He disclosed that the CBN supported cassava production in Nigeria with N25 billion in 2020 and promised that the apex bank will strengthen partnership with other stakeholders to create a community of seed entrepreneurs across the cassava value chain.
The BASIC-II project consists of six basic components that include, ensuring integration of breeding and seed system activities; development of early generation seed enterprises and development of commercial seed entrepreneurs; development of the processor-associated seed system model; quality control and disease management; and catalyzing scaling and replication through partners.
The Building of Economically Sustainable and Integrated Cassava Seed System (BASICS-II) was awarded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to IITA in May 2020 to transform the cassava seed sector of Nigeria, the world’s largest producer of cassava.