The Federal Government has commended the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and its partners for their impact on the Nigerian seed system, especially in the cassava sector.
The commendation came when the IITA launched the second phase of the Building an Economically Sustainable and Integrated Cassava Seed Systems (BASICS-II).
The first phase of the project lasted between 2015 and 2020, and facilitated the development of more than 160 commercial seed entrepreneurs in the country.
These seed entrepreneurs are now growing cassava with the aim of producing and selling stems, an activity that is generating income and creating wealth in cassava growing communities.
Speaking during the launch held virtually on the campus of the IITA in Ibadan, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, lauded BASICS-I, saying it did not only achieve its set objectives within the period, but also led to the development of such novel ICT technologies like National Seed Tracker, which makes it easier for stakeholders to monitor seed quality, cassava Third Party seed certification system, which would guide the process of decentralised seed certification in Nigeria; and establishment of a molecular diagnostic laboratory for virus testing at the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) Abuja.
He said that the birth of BASICS-II corroborates the financier’s desire to consolidate on the achievements of BASIC-I, adding that it also meant Nigeria’s seed industry was garnering the necessary attention and interventions from other global seed stakeholders.
“On behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, I want to express our deepest appreciation to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for funding this great project, IITA for leading this project and other stakeholders, such as the Nigerian National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and FERA (UK),” he added.
In his remarks, IITA Director-General, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, stressed the imperativeness of a sustainable seed system due to the importance of cassava in Africa’s quest to attain food security.
He urged the project team to ensure that the project is scaled and replicated in other African countries, adding that most of countries were already emulating Nigeria’s steps in the cassava sector.