Researchers working under the Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System (BASICS) project have harvested the first ever plots of cassava stems derived from a novel cassava propagation system, the Semi-Autotrophic Hydroponic (SAH). The historic harvest, the first of its kind in cassava, was done on 13 September 2017
from fields in IITA-Ibadan, Nigeria. The planting material for the production plot originated from virus-free tissue culture plantlets, which was rapidly multiplied through the revolutionary SAH technology.
The SAH-derived cassava plants were transplanted in fields and the stems were harvested from mature plants after 9 to 10 months of planting in 2017 season. The root and stem yield data is being collected for at least 5 varieties planted in 2016. A part of the field planted with SAH will be ratooned for multiplication and the stem cuttings
will be planted in other locations for further multiplication of the planting material.
The study of field data and financial analysis of these pilots will offer more clues about the commercial potential of SAH technology in helping the larger cause of developing a sustainable seed system for cassava in Nigeria. Based on these learnings, BASICS project aims at appropriately positioning this technology in the seed value chain.
The SAH technology which was developed by SAHTECHNO Ltd., USA, for the production of potato seeds was adapted
for cassava propagation by IITA. Currently, three SAH labs are in operation in Nigeria: one each at IITA, National Roots Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike, and
Context Global Development. Establishment of additional SAH laboratories requires an agreement between the new laboratories and SAHTECHNO Ltd. In the last two decades, IITA and partners developed 46 improved varieties, which
have been released in Nigeria, but one of the major bottlenecks in enhancing wider adoption of improved varieties has been the inability to make available enough quantities of breeder seeds to feed through the seed production system. The SAH propagation is expected to overcome this critical shortcoming. Besides, the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), IITA, NRCRI and Fera Science Ltd, UK, are developing appropriate protocols and systems for certification of cassava seeds at breeder, foundation, and commercial classes of seeds.
BASICS is a four-year (2016-2019) project that is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and is led by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB).