The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Nanono, has urged investors in the private sector to drive the production of the cassava value chain to meet local consumption and export demands.
Nanono, who made the call in a statement by Ezeaja Ikemefuna Chief Information Officer of the ministry in Abuja on Wednesday, said this would also achieve food and nutrition security and generate revenue for the country.
The minister said this when the project team of the Economically Sustainable and Integrated Cassava Seed System Phase 11 (BASICS II ) paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.
Nanono said that the ministry would create appropriate policy measures for the successful production and distribution of cassava products to ensure the availability of food and raw materials for industries.
“The ministry will continue to collaborate with the BASICS 11 projects through facilitating capacity building for farmers in the area of yield gaps.
Also, in strengthening research and development in diseases and pest control to improve cassava productivity among others,’’ he said
In his remarks, Dr Alfred Dixon, the Team Lead and Director for Development and Delivery, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) said the BASICS-II project intended to address the gap.
“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,” he said.
Dixion said that cassava root producers would subsequently process it into various end products or sell surplus roots to processing industries.
” 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 support from the Federal Government toward the IITA GoSeeds and NRCRI Umudike Seed.
He said that this would be imperative for sustainable production of Early Generation Seeds (EGS) that would feed the demand pool for commercial seed producers.
Dixon also solicited 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 would continue to play a higher and pivotal role by becoming a technical hub for the ministry for cassava innovations.
He said that the process could scale to other clonally propagated crops in Nigeria. (NAN)