IITA Advises Cassava Farmers, Processors on the Way Forward for the Industry
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, Monday, advised processors on investing in cassava seed system for seamless production of the commodity.
This was pointed out by an Advocacy, Promotion and Outreach Lead, IITA, Dr Godwin Atser, in a paper presentation titled ‘Harnessing Opportunities in Cassava Seed System for Industrial Growth’, at the just concluded 45th Nigeria Institute of Food Science and Technology, NIFST, Conference and Annual General Meeting held in Benue State, which had in attendance professionals, investors and policymakers including the Deputy Governor of Benue State, Engr Benson Abounu, Dr Augustine Okoruwa of theGlobal Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and Dr Toye Oluwole.
According to Atser, sufficient investments must be made in the cassava seed subsector in order to address challenges plaguing supply of quality cassava roots as raw materials to industries.
He further highlighted challenges in the cassava industry as it affects production of the commodity in Nigeria as far as demand and supply are concerned, which the present high cost of cassava roots was demand-driven including farmers going for local varieties as seed also negatively impacted desired productivity.
However, Atser recalled that that in early 2021, many processors had to shut down their factories when cassava root prices rose to over N85,000 per tonne up from N12,000 per tonne, before receding to N25,000 per tonne.
He also emphasized that the era of growing cassava without giving full concentration on profile of the variety used is counter-productive.
He said: “Industries are becoming variety specific, and farmers who want to make it big must go for the varieties in demand, which include TME 419, Fine Face, Dixon, Farmer’s Pride, Sunshine, Game Changer, Obasanjo II, and Poundable.
“Any of these varieties can yield more than 30 tonnes per hectare.”
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He also explained that the BASICS model of the IITA Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Cassava Seed System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II) Project, is transforming cassava seed production, marketing and distribution by ensuring quality along the seed value chain and promoting improved, disease-free varieties.
According to his success stories, farmers who have adopted the BASICS model are making high profit through their high yields recorded, which he stressed that the roles of the private sector and governments were critical in ensuring that the model was taken to scale.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the special session and the Project Manager of the BASICS-II project, Prof Lateef Sanni, said the need for quality and constant supply of raw materials could not be overemphasized, adding that “it all begins with the seed.”
Sanni who is also Professor of Food Science and Technology, called on the industry to support the development of a sustainable cassava seed system in the country for wealth and job creation, adding that the project could provide technical support to willing investors.
He also pledged IITA’s readiness to continuously collaborate and partner with all relevant stakeholders including the Benue state government, towards sustainable development.