We are pleased and proud to announce the signing of a new project entitled ‘Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Seed System for Cassava in Nigeria’ with $USD11.6 million funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The four year project aims to sustainably improve farmers’ access to high quality and affordable cassava planting materials through the development and promotion of commercial models for seed provision.
The project will also build the capacity of Nigerian institutions like The National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) and the National Root Crops Research Institute in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and other stakeholders, including both men and women cassava farmers, processors and commercial seed producers to develop and put in to place a testing, field inspection and certification system for cassava seed. This will in turn help fast-track improved breeders’ cassava varieties to farmers.
This will help to ensure that good quality, disease-free planting materials are in use throughout the industry to improve productivity and incomes for farmers and their families.
The project will be coordinated by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) and implemented by partners including International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the Nigerian National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), the International Potato Center (CIP), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Fera Science Ltd, Context Network, the Nigerian National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) and others.
Cassava is the most important food crop for Nigeria, the world’s largest producer. Cassava is contributing to Nigerian agricultural transformation and reducing poverty through its lowering of production costs and increasing productivity, coupled with the employment opportunities that are generated through cassava processing – which are particularly important for women and youth.
Chiedozie Egesi, Assistant Director and Head, Cassava Breeding National Root Crops Research Institute of Nigeria: “Despite the huge potentials of the crop to empower farmers, the cassava seed system has been weak and poorly organized due to lack of motivated seed entrepreneurs. Our hope is that this project will bring solution to a critical link in the crop’s value chain.”
Graham Thiele, RTB Program Director: “A transformation in cassava production and processing is underway in Nigeria to fully tap the potential of this crop to contribute to economic growth and livelihoods. One of the missing pieces of the jigsaw was the provision of high quality seed of the varieties which processors and growers need. If we can get this right there is a very large multiplier effect. We need to bring all the players along a seed value chain together in a shared vision. We have a great team in Nigeria and after a lot of hard work to put together a winning proposal we can’t wait to get going.”
Commencing in 2016, the project will enhance the cassava transformation by working with four key clients including cassava farmers, commercial processor groups, village seed nurseries and government stakeholders to further support commercial seed producers.
Peter Kulakow, Head of the Cassava Breeding Unit, IITA: “This project will introduce new rapid multiplication technologies to increase the supply of high quality seed and we will engage industry and farmer participation to generate demand for new commercial varieties that meet industry and end user needs.”