Cassava: Nigeria May Incur N200b Lost Opportunities Annually – Expert

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Cassava Stem and Roots
By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
Project Director for Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System  (BASICS)’ Mr Hemant Nitturkar has alerted that Nigeria as the largest producer of cassava in the world may still be  incurring a lost opportunity of about N200billion annually.
Mr Nitturkar raised the alarm at a national stakeholder conference on cassava seed system organized by BASICS held at the Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.
He pointed out that “one of the factors responsible for the low yield of cassava is the low adoption of clean and healthy seeds of improved varieties of cassava by farmers” and that “we have to start with the right planting material and nurture it with good agronomy and weed management practices”.
“Each of these three components has the potential to raise the productivity of cassava by 30 percent. If we do not improve our practices in seed, weed and agronomy, we are incurring a lost opportunity of about 200 billion Naira annually from each of the three issues”he said.
Speaking, a senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lawrence Kent declared that “the aim of the Project is to build an economically sustainable seed system that is profitable both to the sellers of quality stems and to the farmers who purchase and plant those stems”.
Mr Kent howevr all the stakeholders “to create reusable bridges to continuously link technology developers with farmers through business oriented approaches, like the one being implemented under BASICS.
At the end of the conference,the National stakeholders on cassava in their resolutions advocated the introduction of businesses selling improved varieties and high quality cassava stems for cultivation to help African farmers significantly raise their productivity.
According to the stakeholders, “this will mean more Naira from the same land, inputs and effort” and that “the benefits of this raised productivity will be enjoyed by all the stakeholders across the value chain in a sustainable way”.
According to them, there is the urgent need for all the stakeholders to work towards a sustainable seed system in Nigeria, saying, “Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world with a production of about 54 million tons, but its yield per hectare of cassava roots is about 8 tons, less than half of the realizable yields of more than 20 tons per hectare”.
They emphasized the importance of  businesses selling improved varieties and high quality cassava stems for cultivation to help African farmers significantly raise their productivity.
“This will mean more Naira from the same land, inputs and effort. The benefits of this raised productivity will be enjoyed by all the stakeholders across the value chain in a sustainable way”.

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