By Samuel Ohwovoriole
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammad Nanono has tasked investors in the private sector to drive production of cassava value chain in order to meet with local consumption and export demands, achieve food and nutrition security and generate revenue for the country.
Nanono said that his ministry would create appropriate policy measures for successful production and distribution of cassava produce to ensure availability of food and raw materials for industries. This was contained in a press release by the ministry and signed by Ezeaja Ikemefuna, Chief Information Officer to the Director, Information (FMARD).
The Minister, made this statement during a courtesy visit by the project team of the Economically Sustainable and Integrated Cassava Seed System Phase 11 (BASICS 11), to the Ministry’s Conference room in Abuja.
Nanono stated that the BASICS 11 would transform the cassava value chain sector by promoting the dissemination of improved varieties thereby creating a hub of seed entrepreneurs across the cassava value chain in the Agric sector. The Minister assured that ‘’the ministry will continue to collaborate with the BASICS 11 projects through the capacity building of farmers in areas of yield gaps, strengthening research and development in diseases and pest control to improve cassava productivity among others.’’
Director for Development and Delivery, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr. Alfred Dixon, who led the IITA team said that ‘’the BASICS-II project intends to address the gap by creating a formal seed system for cassava that links breeder seeds with foundation seed producers and foundation seed producers to commercial seed entrepreneurs who will sell to the cassava root producers’’.
According to Dr. Dixon ‘’Cassava root producers will subsequently process into various end products or sell surplus roots to processing industries in the Country. In this fashion, we will be creating jobs and income generation opportunities for young people that will serve as seed entrepreneurs and modern producers of cassava. Furthermore, the use of certified seeds will increase the national productivity of cassava,’’ he said.
He appealed for the support of the Federal Government towards the IITA GoSeeds and NRCRI Umudike Seed which he said would be imperative for sustainable production of Early Generation Seeds (EGS) that will feed the demand pool for commercial seed producers. Dixon also solicited a greater collaboration with the Ministry, IITA and National partners including: National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) and National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI).
He recalled previous contributions by IITA to the Ministry, assuring that the agency will continue to play a higher and pivotal role by becoming a technical hub for the ministry for cassava innovations. He stated that the process could scale to other clonally propagated crops in Nigeria.
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