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The Ogun state government will benefit from the “Building an Economically Sustainable & Integrated Cassava Seed System Phase II” (BASICS-II) project sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The (BASICS-II) project which was initiated by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) was initiated to provide farmers with access to affordable, quality-assured seeds of the cassava varieties in demand by local food and processor markets through the establishment of a commercially viable seed value chain operating across breeder, foundation, and commercial seed levels.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in June 2020 invested $14.3 million into the program to consolidate and expand this work in both Nigeria and Tanzania
The commissioner for Industry, Trade and investment in the state, Kikelomo Longe explained this in her keynote address at the Joint Public Presentation of SANO Foods Products and Basic-ii Cassava Varietal Display held on Tuesday in Abeokuta.
The commissioner said the state is the highest contributor to Nigeria’s cassava production as the world largest producer has experienced increase in scale of production activities in the past two decades.
Longe said the demand and global significance of cassava had increase following the rising prices of other food items and the demand for cassava varieties.
Longer in her address said, “according to the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Nigeria is currently the largest producer of cassava in the world, accounting for one-fifth of the total global output of 277million tonnes in 2018. Ogun State, being the largest industrial cassava producer, accounts for 10% of national production.
The State also has the largest processor network in Nigeria. Over the past two decades, the cropped area for cultivation of cassava has grown from 3.3million hectares to 7.2million hectares, average yield has increased from 10.6 tonnes per hectare to 18 tonnes per hectare, and production volumes of cassava, have grown from 32million tonnes to 59million tonnes.
“The global significance of cassava has increased due to the rising prices of close substitutes such as rice and maize. As a result, significant progress has been recorded in developing new cassava varieties in the country. According to Seed Tracker, over 25 new varieties have been released since 1988, which convert to starch, ethanol, and other derivatives. In Ogun State, the average price of fresh cassava root is $64.9.
“The “Building an Economically Sustainable & Integrated Cassava Seed System Phase II” (BASICS-II) project sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and executed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and partners, aims to accomplish a transformed cassava seed sector by promoting the adoption of improved cassava varieties. This project which was earmarked to commence in Nigeria & Tanzania, will, upon successful execution, be replicated in other African countries.”
She added the state had empowered 40, 000 smallholder farmers were supported with seeds, cassava stems, insecticides, and herbicides, gave fertilizers to 10, 000 smallholder farmers, constructed four cassava processing centres at Baara, Alapako-Oni, Oke Iyemi and Ayetoro amongst other efforts to promote industrial activities and public-private partnership.
Speaking further on the BASICS-II project, Longe said, “this project which was earmarked to commence in Nigeria & Tanzania, will, upon successful execution, be replicated in other African countries. The project seeks to nurture the development of sustainable Early Generation Seed Systems through public-private partnership (PPP) and connect these seed systems with a network of entrepreneurs and processors ready to multiply, distribute and sell these new and improved seeds varieties.”
Earlier in his goodwill message, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Adeola Odedina had described the state as the home of cassava.
He ascribed the State’s success in cassava production to various programmes which had been executed to empower youths in agriculture.
The commissioner said the BASICS-II programme aligns with the State’s intent to train people on product linkage.
He added that it will help the state to ensure its citizens grow what they eat.
In his words, “Ogun State is the home of cassava, as you are aware that Nigeria is the highest producer of cassava in the world with over 50 million metric tons per year and this is the only sector where we are number one in the world. When it comes to Ogun State, we are also running the biggest cassava programme in Nigeria today.
I can tell you in the last six years, 5000 young Ogun State indigenes benefitted from the anchor borrower’s programme, #700m changed hands between CBN and Ogun youths on cassava opportunity. In our value chain project, VCDP, over 3000 young people benefitted from it. We have over 250,000 farmers in Ogun State growing cassava. When we are talking about opportunities to improve cassava, we should not be found wanting.
“Food security, job creation and agricultural industrialization, I am happy that the Sona group is taking the opportunity of the cassava value chain by linking products to the state. We have identified a lot of young people who we will train on product linkage, this is an avenue to empower young people. This platform will provide job for us and make us relevant in the agricultural industrialization. We also want to ensure our people eat what they grow and that they grow what they eat.”