Stakeholders in the Nigerian agricultural sector have harped on the need to scale technologies that would improve cassava seed production and the food system in Nigeria.
The experts made the call during the National Cassava Summit, which was held in Abuja on Thursday.
Specifically, the Director for Development and Delivery, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr Alfred Dixon, called for private and public sector partnerships to boost the development in the cassava value chain.
Speaking on the theme of the summit, “Catalysing and Scaling of Private Sector-led Cassava Seed Development in Nigeria”, Dixon said, “ The state of cassava is a mixed bag.
Though Nigeria remains the largest producer of cassava in the world, on the one hand, the yield per hectare and production have not changed much.
However, there has been more appreciation for cassava and cassava products.
He noted that there had been an improvement in the level of private sector investment in the cassava value chain.
Also, he disclosed that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD), the African Development Bank (AfDB), among others, have come up with new investment models for the cassava value chain.
According to him, the industry key players, through collaborative efforts are revitalising the sub-sector.
He, however, noted that more efforts need to be geared towards putting the cassava value chain on the front burner of the nation’s economy, noting that there is an increased demand for improved cassava seeds.
“Suffice to say that sustainable cassava seed system goes beyond cultivating improved varieties on a parcel of land.
Rather, it involves the careful arrangement and establishment of Breeder, Foundation and Certified seeds in a manner that engenders generic purity and quality assurance, and brings about commercialisation and wealth creation in the seed value chain, while at the same time integrating the development of a pipeline of improved varieties by breeding programs.
“BASICS-II project has developed the BASICS model to deploy, replicate and disseminate in an economically sustainable manner, improved varieties of cassava and tackle the challenge of low yield.
“It links root producers, processors and consumers with Early Generation Seed producers and Certified Commercial Seed Producers, providing feedback from consumers, processors and farmers to continuously improve product profiles used by breeders for end-users preferred varieties,” he added.
Also, he detailed the institute’s efforts in galvanising improved production in the sector.
He explained that this has been achieved through interventions on women, and youth development, as well as partnerships with states.
“We must produce food in ways that create wealth.
The present upwards trajectory of catalyzing and scaling private sector-led seed development portrays a bright future for the country and will lead us to the promised land.
“We are changing the narrative of cassava from poor farmers’ crop to pacesetter for African rural development,” he said.
Experts seek technology scaleup to boost cassava seed production