THE National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and National Root Crop Research Institute (NRCRI) have commenced training of 18 third-party agents for cassava seeds inspection in Benue state.
The inspectors are expected to assist the seeds council on certification of quality cassava seeds to smallholder cassava farmers.
Phillip Ojo, the NASC Director-General while declaring the training open Monday in Makurdi, Benue State Capital, said the project is to develop a sustainable cassava seed system and well-trained third-party agents for the stakeholders in the sector.
According to him, in the last three years, the project developed technologies such as the Semis Autotrophic Hydroponics (SAH) for speeding up the propagation of clean cassava planting materials and the cassava seed tracker.
“The Council embarked on nationwide training of seed certification officers for cassava certification. In 2017 and 2018, the Council-certified 650 hectares and 1000 hectares of cassava seed fields respectively,” says Ojo.
However, he disclosed plans to increase the production of improved cassava materials, hence an increase in hectares of cassava seed production.
“You may wish to note that the number of seed companies has witnessed a dramatic increase from 156 in 2017 to 314 as of today with over 250 applications from prospective entrepreneurs.”
The DG thereafter warned that any agent found guilty of compromising seed quality would be sanctioned.
Hemant Nitturhen, the project director for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) noted that since cassava is a major staple crop in the country, the training would boost better production and increase quality cassava seeds certification for smallholder farmers.
Though Nigeria is considered the world’s largest producer of cassava with 47.4 million tons as of 2014, in terms of value addition and international market penetration, it’s not doing so much.
As of March 2006, it annually produced 38 million metric tons but currently produces one-fifth of world cassava production put at 253.4 million tons with over N20 trillion potential in revenue generation.