IITA Upbeat over Improved Cassava, Production Sales amid COVID-19 Hiccups

IITA Upbeat over Improved Cassava, Production Sales amid COVID-19 Hiccups

Gilbert Ekugbe

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) had expressed optimism that 2022 would be a positive year for the production and sales of cassava in the country despite COVID-19 restrictions that have hindered cassava supply chains.

The Vegetative Seed Specialist of IITA GoSeed, Ms. Mercy Diebiru-Ojo, said during the annual meeting of the Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II) that the IITA GoSeed, an early generation seed company, made significant progress in 2021 as sales of improved cassava planting materials averaged $267,277 despite COVID-19 restrictions.

Diebiru-Ojo said: “Sales were driven primarily by orders from farmers and processors who aim to get higher yields to meet consumers’ demand. The sales were achieved despite COVID-19 restrictions that hurt seed supply chains.”

She said that although Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava, the yield per hectares of cassava in the country is less than 8.0 tonnes per hectares compared to Thailand with a yield of 20 tonnes per hectares. 

The researcher attributed the low yield on the use of local varieties that account for 40 per cent of the cassava plants in Nigeria. However, the company through its business model has established 142 hectares of early generation seeds comprising 122 hectares of breeder seeds and 20 hectares of foundation seeds in eight states in Nigeria.

“We worked with the out growers to achieve this target while ensuring that women were active participants,” she explained.

Also speaking at the meeting, the Project Manager of BASICS-II, Mr. Lateef Sanni, commended the progress made by IITA GoSeed, and noted that the company is a vital node in the cassava seed value chain.

“The progress you have made is impressive, and we are proud of you,” he said.

For the Technical Advisor to BASICS-II, Dr. Alfred Dixon and IITA Deputy Director General (Partnership for Delivery), Dr. Kenton Dashiell, the progress made by GoSeed was a demonstration of farmers’ desire to rapidly transform the cassava ecosystem. 

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