By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan.
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), project manager of the Next Generation Cassava Breeding, (NextGen Cassava) Chiedozie Egesi, has disclosed that Africa produces more than half of the world’s cassava.
Egesi said this in a statement made available to newsmen as world’s top cassava experts will gather at the IITA in Ibadan on March 14-16 to report progress on developing new varieties of cassava with higher yield and nutritional content.
The project manager declared that Africa produces about 86 million tons from over 10 million hectares adding “but disease pathogens and climate change threaten cassava production and jeopardize the income and food security of smallholder farmers”.
“Since 2012, scientists on the NextGen Cassava project have been working to significantly increase the rate of genetic improvement in cassava breeding and unlock cassava’s full potential. Cassava is a clonally propagated crop and seed set is difficult. New varieties with enhanced productivity and nutritional traits typically take up to 10 years to develop”.
He added that “Scientists on the NextGen project are focused on giving breeders in Africa access to the most advanced plant breeding technologies to deliver improved varieties to farmers more rapidly”.
Egesi pointed out that “the best clones from NextGen Cassava genomic selection efforts are in Uniform Yield Trials this year and are due to be released to farmers in the next two years”.
Also, IITA director of International Programs and Cornell Professor of Plant breeding and Genetics,, Ronnie Coffman said “Partners of NextGen Cassava are using a state-of-the-art plant breeding approach known as genomic selection to improve cassava productivity for the 21st century,”