The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, under the Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Cassava Seed System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II) and SANO Food Limited have partnered to launch new cassava seed varieties and organic foods.
The move is to boost cassava production and create wealth for farmers with Nigerians having access to organic and nutritious food, wherefore seek to promote the cultivation of improved cassava varieties as well as the consumption of locally processed products in Nigeria.
Part of the deal is to create awareness on the newly released cassava varieties and at the same time draw consumers’ attention on the availability of locally made and nutritious foods designed to tackle malnutrition.
The two organizations also had a joint public exhibition of fortified foods and cassava varietal display at IITA, Ibadan, which the newly released cassava varieties included Game Changer, Obasanjo-2; Hope, Poundable; Baba-70; TME 419; Farmer’s Pride; Dixon; Ayaya; Sunshine; and Fine face.
According to IITA these varieties have yields above 20 tonnes per ha as opposed to local varieties that give less than 10 tonnes per ha.
Meanwhile, processed foods that were displayed included fortified Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) Garri, Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) Bread, Lemon Grass Tea, and others.
Also on the IITA Yam Improvement for Incomes and Food Security in West Africa, Phase II (YIFSWA-II) had improved yam varieties and value-chain products on display while the IITA mechanization unit displayed locally made cassava harvesters.
During the exhibition, Deputy Director-General (Partnerships for Delivery), IITA, Dr Kenton Dashiell, noted that breeders were making great progress in the development of crop varieties but needed inputs of other stakeholders like the government and processors, who would add value to the research products.
According to Dashiell the final development needed partnerships and collaborations with the private sector to add value to these crops.
He said: “I believe that is what SANO is doing and I’m sure we will get to learn more from them.”
The Director, Development and Delivery Office of IITA, Dr Alfred Dixon, in his address described the SANO-BASICS-II partnership as a win-win collaboration.
“Private sector-led cassava development in Nigeria was essential for the transformational change of cassava in the country.
“Together we will create an economically sustainable cassava value chain where every actor will have space and benefit from cassava.
“We will raise awareness and trigger the adoption of these varieties by farmers”, Dixon added.
The renowned cassava breeder harped on the need to harness the potentials of cassava as a poverty fighter to create jobs, fight food insecurity and boost the nation’s economy.
Also speaking was the Acting General Manager of Sano Foods, Solomon Ojeleye, who highlighted the SANO’s vision, which is to provide foods that are healthy and rich in vitamins.
Ojeleye also identified Turmeric Garri and OFSP Garri, as two products the company developed through research to add nutritional value to cassava.
His said: “We have over 39 products in the market and all of them are organic because we put the health of our consumers first. We use puree, flour, and roots of yellow cassava, Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato, yellow maize, and other crops for the production of several confectioneries which include varieties of bread, cookies, and cakes, and baby food.”
Also speaking was a Vegetative Seed Production Expert at IITA GoSeeed, Dr. Mercy Diebiru-Ojo, who said some of the new and improved varieties currently being promoted boast of high vitamin A content. They also have excellent garri and fufu qualities and superb dry matter content, properties that are important to food processors, flour mills, and industries.
IITA BASICS-II Project Manager, Prof Lateef Sanni, said working with organizations such as Sano Foods would advance the cassava value chain.
Other scientists who also spoke at the event include Director for West Africa Hub, IITA, Michael Abberton; NextGen Cassava Project, Ismail Rabbi; and YIIFSWA-II Tissue Culture Specialist, Morufat Balogun; Post-Harvest Engineer, IITA, Engr Thierno Diallo, also made a presentation on locally produced cassava harvesters.