WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – (April 30, 2016) Context Global Development™ (CGD) has begun work on a new initiative that aims to sustainably improve Nigerian farmers’ access to high quality and affordable cassava planting materials. The four-year project, entitled “Building and Economically Sustainable, Integrated Seed System for Cassava in Nigeria”, is funded with $11.6 million (USD) in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The project will work to advance access and affordability of seed through the development and promotion of commercial models for seed provision.
CGD Managing Director, Mark Nelson said, “Underpinning this primary goal, the project will build the capacity of the government and other stakeholders, including both men and women cassava farmers, processors and commercial seed producers, to develop and put in place a testing, field inspection and certification system for cassava seed.” Nelson said in turn, this will help fast-track improved breeders’ cassava varieties to farmers. “Ultimately, these efforts will help ensure that good quality, disease-free planting materials are in use throughout the industry, improving productivity and incomes for the region’s farmers and their families.”
The project is coordinated by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB). Along with Context Global Development, it is being implemented by partners including International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), the International Potato Center (CIP), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Fera Science Ltd, the National Agricultural Seed Council (NACS), and others.
The project will work with cassava farmers and processors, commercial seed producers, institutional stakeholders, and other cassava programs that will be encouraged to further support commercial seed producers. Cassava is the most important food crop for Nigeria, which is the world’s largest producer. The crop’s low production cost and widespread cultivation mean it has high potential to reduce poverty.
RTB Program Director, Graham Thiele said, “A transformation in cassava production and processing is under way in Nigeria to fully tap the potential of this crop to contribute to economic growth and livelihoods. One of the missing pieces of the jigsaw was the provision of high quality seed of the varieties which processors and growers need. If we can get this right there is a very large multiplier effect.” He added, “We need to bring all the players along a seed value chain together in a shared vision. We have a great team in Nigeria and after a lot of hard work to put together a winning proposal we can’t wait to get going.”
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