Cassava is one of the most important crops in Nigeria, As the world’s largest producer of the commodity, there was a need to discuss, deliberate, and chart a course for the transformation of cassava.
Agriculture stakeholders in the cassava value chain from the private and public sector including researchers converged in Abuja for the National Cassava Summit where delibrations were made to address and improve the cassava seed system with a view to transforming the root crop into a cash cow for the nation.
The national cassava seed development summit would listen to 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.
Though Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava, yield per ha has stagnated at below 10 tons per ha, making growers in the country uncompetitive especially in the export market. On the flip side, 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 tons per ha.
“The task is to get the varieties to farmers in an economically sustainable manner and tackle the challenge of low yield’’, says Dr Alfred Dixon, Director for Development & Delivery at IITA today. 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.
Dr. Dixon observed that beyond cassava roots, the marketing of improved cassava stems is a new income earner that Nigerian farmers need to take advantage of.
According to the Executive Director of the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta, Dr. Dara Akala, ‘’ 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.’’
The 2021 Summit will 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.
“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,” says Prof. Lateef Sanni, the Project Manager of the Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System, phase 2 (BASICS-II).
The 2021 national cassava summit was organized by IITA, BASICS-II, PIND, and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) with the theme: “Catalyzing and Scaling Private Sector-Led Cassava Seed Development in Nigeria.”