Cassava: Stakeholders seek ways to improve stagnated 10 tonnes per hectare of cassava

AS food insecurity remains a challenge in Nigeria, stakeholders in cassava value chain, Thursday, sort ways to improve stagnated 10 tonnes per hectare of cassava production in Nigeria.

The move was made by stakeholders in both private and public sectors at the National Cassava Seed Development Summit holding in Abuja to improve cassava seed system with a view to transforming the root crop into a cash cow for the nation.

At the Summit there will be assessment of case studies of successful seed entrepreneurs; identify and engage on the policy reforms required to galvanize the cassava seed sector to raise productivity and drive industrial growth projections.

The Summit will also promote impactful and economically sustainable seed models and build the capacity of public and market actors and other key stakeholders for effective seed system coordination and competitiveness. Furthermore, it will unveil opportunities in the cassava seed sector for private capital investment.

The 2021 Summit will also feature technical sessions to address seed quality and quantity issues regarding policy directions, industry demands, finance, production and marketing, capacity development, productivity enhancement technologies, and legislative frameworks.

The 2021 National Cassava Summit is put together by IITA, BASICS-II, PIND and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development with theme ‘Catalyzing and Scaling Private Sector-Led Cassava Seed Development in Nigeria’.

They said, “Though Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava, yield per ha has stagnated at below 10 tons per ha, making growers in the country uncompetitative especially in the export market.

Meanwhile, it was made known that the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, and the National Root Crops Research Institute, NRCRI, Umudike, have developed varieties with yield potential of more than 30 tonnes per ha.

The Director for Development and Delivery, IITA, Dr Alfred Dixon said, “The task is to get the varieties to farmers in an economically sustainable manner and tackle the challenge of low yield.

“In the last two years, the Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System, phase 2 (BASICS-II) has developed a seed system model for cassava that is driving the adoption of improved varieties and creating jobs and wealth for farmers.”

According to Dixon, beyond cassava roots, marketing of improved cassava stems is a new income earner that Nigerian farmers need to take advantage of.

Also speaking was the Executive Director, Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta, Dr Dara Akala, expressed hope that targeting a gross value of $5 billion per annum is possible to achieve both in investments and income.

“In 2016, during the first National Summit on Cassava, which PIND and partners facilitated, we did share a vision for cassava becoming an engine of economic growth, targeting a gross value of $5 billion per annum, both in investments and income. Since then, cassava has been steadily gaining recognition and importance in Nigeria as an industrial crop”, Akala said.

In another remarks, the Project Manager, Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II), Prof Lateef Sanni, said: “This Summit is one of our many engagement platforms with public and private sector stakeholders to develop a sustainable cassava seed system.

“A system that would give farmers access to quality seeds of improved varieties to provide the best raw materials to food and processing industries and stimulate economic growth along the cassava value chain.”

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