Nigeria needs new ‘seed system’ to make cassava-based foods affordable- IITA

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has called on Nigeria to adopt a “new seed system approach” to compete globally and to keep the prices of cassava-based foods stable and affordable in the country. 

IITA’s digital extension and advisory specialist, Godwin Atser, in a statement said Lateef Sanni, the project manager of the institute’s BASICS-II project, described cassava as the engine of economic growth that Nigeria must take advantage of.

“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,” Sanni was quoted to have said during a media parley at Ibadan on Wednesday last week.

Launched two years ago, the project—Building an Economically Sustainable Cassava Seed Systems (BASICS I & II), is a new seed system model developed by the IITA.

It is aimed at creating “a more efficient dissemination of cassava stems that would trigger the adoption of new varieties to improve productivity; raise incomes of cassava growers and seed entrepreneurs; enhance gender equity, and contribute to inclusive agricultural transformation in Nigeria and Tanzania.

The seed system approach creates an ecosystem of seed actors, breeders, foundations, and certified seed producers which ensures that seeds of improved and virus-free cassava varieties are multiplied and disseminated to farmers through a value chain in an economically sustainable manner.

According to the statement, Sanni said: “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,” the project manager said.

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