The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)-led Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II), has enlisted 45 farmers in Kogi State as Cassava Seed Entrepreneurs (CSEs).
The IITA Digital Extension and Advisory Services Specialist, Mr Godwin Atser, disclosed this in a statement on Friday in Ibadan.
According to Atser, the CSEs are drawn from across the state after a thorough screening process by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the BASICS-II partner leading the development of CSEs in Nigeria.
He said that the plan was to help Kogi State boost its seed demand for cassava production, create a new stream of business opportunities, improve the livelihoods of farmers and contribute to the overall food security in the country.
Aster added that the coming on board of the new cassava seed entrepreneurs would drive the adoption and marketing of the recently branded six varieties released and four yet-to be-released varieties.
“The released varieties and their new names are as follows: IBA961632 (Farmer’s Pride), IBA980581 (Dixon), CR36-5 (Ayaya), IBA070593 (Sunshine), IBA980505 (Fine face) and TME 419.
“The yet-to-be-released (pre-release) varieties and their new names are TMS13F1160P0004 (Game Changer), TMS13F1343P0022 (Obasanjo-2), NR130124 (Hope) and TMEB693 (Poundable).
“Under good agronomic practices, these varieties yield more than 20 tonnes per hectares as opposed to the current national average of nine tonnes per hectare,” Atser quoted experts as saying.
Meanwhile, the Kogi State Commissioner for Agriculture, David Apeh, said that the development of cassava seeds system in Kogi State was a welcome development for the transformation of the state’s cassava sector.
Furthermore, Prof. Lateef Sanni, the BASICS-II Project Leader, reiterated the importance of developing the cassava seed sector to catalyse the diffusion of improved varieties in Nigeria.
Sanni noted that there was a huge opportunity in the cassava seed sector for farmers to utilise and transform their livelihoods, adding that BASICS-II was willing to backstop farmers towards developing a sustainable cassava seed sector in Nigeria.
Also, the Chairman of the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association, Pastor Paul Agada, said that the association was working with the Central Bank of Nigeria to establish 4000 hectares of cassava seed farms.
He assured the CSEs of adequate demand and market for improved cassava seeds, stressing that at the moment there was a gap in the availability of clean-improved and certified seeds.
“Our farmers are willing to buy cassava seeds, so we are glad some of you will be producing for farmers in the state,” Agada said.
Also, Mr Oluwatosin Oni, the Senior Programme Manager, CRS, said that the establishment of the CSEs was a new dawn for the cassava sector in Kogi State.
Oni expressed optimism that the adoption of BASICS-II model would help Kogi to remain among the top states producing cassava in Nigeria.
Edited By: Oluyinka Fadare/Bayo Sekoni