Marketers of cassava stems will earn customers’ confidence and make more money if they
operate in the formal seed space rather than the informal sector. In addition, as formal seed
actors, cassava seed entrepreneurs can help their customers to increase productivity on their
farms.
Dr. Mercy Diebiru-Ojo, a vegetative seed specialist with IITA gave the advice at a Side Event
tagged “Cassava Seed System: Building resilience and creating jobs” at the just concluded
2022 Summit of the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Kigali, Rwanda.
The informal seed sector is defined by a system where farmers share or trade planting materials
with no regulation of the origin, characteristics, and health of the material (seed), whereas a
formal seed system is where the source, identity, and quality of planting material are regulated.
According to Dr. Diebiru-Ojo, “Seed business is profitable, and the main market is in the formal
sector. The informal sector is not sustainable because the quality produced is not assured. In
the past, many farmers who procured low-performing planting materials from informal dealers
lost huge investments. That is why we are encouraging all seed producers to get certified and
be part of the sustainable seed system to make quality improved varieties available to farmers.”
She noted that Nigeria and Tanzania were making progress towards formalizing the cassava
seed system through the work of the Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava
Seed System, phase 2, (BASICS-II) project.
On the importance of early generation seed companies in the cassava seed value chain, Dr.
Diebiru-Ojo noted that IITA GoSeed had drastically shortened the period between the release of
new varieties by breeders and their commercial availability to farmers by deploying several rapid
multiplication technologies and techniques.
“For example, the Semi Autotrophic Hydroponics (SAH) technology has helped us to rapidly
multiply new and disease-free varieties. So, things are really looking up for the cassava sector.”