To improve their yields and incomes, African cassava farmers need regular and reliable access to high quality planting materials of the newest and best varieties. Access to such cassava stems, however, is often a problem. Agrodealers don’t sell them, and free distributions by NGOs and government programmes are sporadic and unreliable. Consequently, many cassava farmers are obliged to save stems of older varieties grown in their own fields or buy uncertified stems in informal markets of questionable quality and unknown identity.

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and its partners are working to address this problem by developing a new and more sustainable cassava seed system that makes high quality stems of high yielding varieties available for sale to African farmers. This work started in Nigeria five years ago as a program called Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Cassava Seed System (BASICS). Some 150 cassava seed enterprises were created in Benue, Abia, Akwa Ibom, and Imo States to multiply and sell cassava stems, following a business model that is both profitable and beneficial to its farmer clients. A sister project in Tanzania nurtured a similar network of cassava seed entrepreneurs. Government agencies certify the stems to ensure quality.

In June, this programme benefited… Continue Reading on Premium Times