As Nigeria continues to fashion out ways to improve on food production and be self-sufficient along various value chains, The Building an Economically Sustainable and Integrated Cassava Seed System, Phase II (BASICS-II) project, Tuesday, held the first Cassava Seed Business Summit 2021.
The Summit’s objective to bring attention to the importance of creating a formal system in the cassava value chain, and also provide a platform for cassava stakeholders to collaborate, share the BASICS-II model and innovations that would foster the emergence of an economically viable and sustainable formal cassava seed system.
The Summit was convened by Sahel Consulting with over 92 cassava seed sector stakeholders in attendance with the theme, ‘The Critical Roles of Stakeholders in Promoting Access to Quality Cassava Stems’, which was held virtually encouraged private sector players to key in and harness opportunities in the emerging formal seed system for cassava in Nigeria.
The Director-General, National Agricultural Seeds Council, NASC, Dr Phillip Ojo, said the Cassava Seed Business Summit was timely as it arose when Nigeria was faced with challenges that a robust cassava seed sector could address.
The Vice-president of Nigeria Agribusiness Group, NABG, Elder Emmanuel Ijewere; President of Cassava Growers Association of Nigeria, NCGA, Pastor Segun Adewumi; and President, Industrial Cassava Stakeholders Association of Nigeria, ICSAN, Charles Adeniji, also delivered goodwill messages.
They expressed their excitement at the emergence of a platform that serves as a discussion forum for stakeholders in the cassava seed sector. Furthermore, they underscored the increasing demand for quality cassava stems and the opportunities within the cassava seed system.
A Director at National Root Crops Research Institute, NRCRI, Dr Joseph Onyeka, who represented Executive Director of NRCRI, Prof Ukpabi Joseph Ukpabi, expressed delight at the emergence of the Cassava Seed Business Summit at this crucial time.
Onyeka also stated that the Summit would assist in mobilizing capital and human resources to ensure timely, adequate, and profitable interventions in the cassava value chain.
A Partner at Sahel Consulting, Temitope Adegoroye, highlighted the cassava seed system’s challenges, including the low yield of smallholder farmers in Nigeria despite the country accounting for approximately 20 per cent of global cassava production.
According to Adegoroye, massive opportunities in the cassava seed sub-sector could catalyze Nigeria’s agricultural transformation.
He pointed that despite opportunities in the subsector they have not been fully harnessed to create job, generate income, and boost food security, and added that there is a need for effective collaboration amongst all cassava stakeholders to maximize the potential in the value chain which has given birth to the first edition of the Cassava Seed Business Summit.
In an opening remark, Director, Development & Delivery at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, Dr Alfred Dixon, stressed the significance of cassava and described it as an engine in Africa’s socio-economic growth and development.
Dixon also expressed optimism that increasing competitiveness in the cassava value chain would ensure food security, alleviate poverty, and improve livelihoods in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa.
A panel session tagged: “Backward Integration Focusing on Cassava Seed Multiplication–The Perspectives of Industrial Processors” provided an expose on the experiences and challenges of industrial processors.
A manager at Sahel Consulting, Chinedu Agbara, moderated the panel, which comprised cassava processing industry leaders and experts, including Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Psaltry International Limited, Yemisi Iranloye; Executive Director of Eagleson & Nito Concepts Limited, Nike Tinubu, and General Manager of Premium Cassava Products Limited (PCPL); Mr. Seyi Oyenuga, Executive Director of ATMANcorp Nigeria Limited; and Mr. Tunde Solaja, Managing Director of Crest Agro Products Limited.
Project Manager of BASICS-II project, Prof Lateef Sanni, in a closing remark, promised to promote engagement with the private sector actors in cassava seed production, stressing that the private sector was crucial for cassava transformation.