The Cassava Seeds System project known as, Building An Economically Sustainable Integrated Seed System for Cassava in Nigeria (BASICS), is making progress towards attaining the milestones set for this year. Following its launch in April 2016, the four-year project is gathering pace in areas of science and business issues across the cassava value chain. IITA and Context are working towards significantly increasing the seed multiplication ratio through a novel technology imported from Argentina. Working in close collaboration with the Flour Mills of Nigeria, this component met in IITA, Ibadan in the last week of June to draw out plans to set up three facilities where this fast multiplication technology will be piloted. Fera of UK, on the other hand, organized a workshop in Umudike earlier in June to develop a plan in partnership with National Agriculture Seed Council (NASC) and National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) in improving the entire cassava seed certification system in Nigeria. Julian Smith of Fera said, “We need a light touch certification that farmers and others can afford.”

Cassava Seeds System Project makes progress
In the coming months, teams from NASC and NRCRI will travel to the United Kingdom and East Africa to learn the best practices in seed certification and adapt them to suit the local context in Nigeria. NASC is also planning to set up a world class ‘Center of Excellence’ for seed certification in Shedda near Abuja. Due to the bulky nature and high quantities of stems required for planting, only a localized seed production and supply system will work. Towards this, the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is building a network of Village Seed Entrepreneurs (VSEs) in Benue region and NRCRI is doing the same in the environs of Umudike. The VSEs will be trained to produce certified seeds of improved cassava varieties close to the areas of need and make available these stems for sale to the farmers located in their vicinity. In an effort to fulfil this vision, the project recently conducted a Training of Trainers for private and public extension agents who will provide technical and business support to the VSEs in Benue state. The training was conducted from June 1 – 3, 2016 in Otukpo, Benue state, and was attended by two female and 12 male trainees from the Benue State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (BNARDA), and the Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) of Gboko, Makurdi and Otukpo. CRS, IITA and NASC facilitated the capacity building workshop, which included both theory and practical field sessions covering the best practices of high quality stem production, stem certification and business practices of selling them to farmers.

Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, BASICS is a new project that is working on both the science and the business aspects of the cassava seed system to address the constraints of cassava seed production through empowering local entrepreneurs and champions of cassava industry. The project is principally implemented by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) which is led by International Potato Center (CIP).

For more information, please contact: Godwin Atser, [email protected]