By: Bamidele Fashube, Abuja
The Nigerian government on Tuesday, lauded the cassava seed system of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and its partners saying this has impacted on the Nigerian seed system, especially in terms of cassava.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono gave the commendation during a virtual launch of the second phase of the Building an Economically Sustainable and Integrated Cassava Seed Systems (BASIC-II), in Ibadan, Oyo State.
According to him, the first phase of the project, BASICS-I, which lasted between 2015 and 2020, facilitated the development of more than 160 commercial seed entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
He said the BASICS-I, did not only achieve its set objectives within its duration period but also led to the development of novel ICT technologies like National Seed Tracker which makes it easier for stakeholders to monitor seed quality, establishment of a molecular diagnostic laboratory for virus testing at the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) headquarters in Sheda, Abuja, among others.
He said the seed entrepreneurs who benefitted in the first phase, are now growing cassava with the primary aim of producing and selling stems.
However, he said the birth of BASICS-II accentuates the fact that the BASICS financier saw the need to consolidate on the achievements of BASIC-I, adding that it also meant Nigeria’s seed industry was garnering the necessary attention and intervention 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, like the Nigerian National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and FERA (UK).”
“I want to assure you that in the implementation of this second phase, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will continue to provide all the necessary support needed for the actualization of the project’s mission.”
Also, he said the 2020 Seed Act will widen the scope of NASC to play the true role of a regulatory agency and also strengthen Nigeria’s seed system.
In his remarks, IITA Director General(DG), Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, stressed the need for 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 the countries were already emulating Nigeria’s steps in the cassava sector.
“Work has started and I hope that in a few years’ time, BASICS-II will grow and become self-sustained,” he said.