Dr Egesi Chiedozie, Project Manager, NextGen Cassava, has disclosed that five new cassava varieties have been released in the last 18 months to farmers across Nigeria.
Chiedozie announced this on Tuesday at the NextGen Cassava Annual meeting in Abuja, saying that the project was about improving cassava varieties to enhance food security and increase income for farmers.
He described NextGen as the largest cassava breeding network located in four continents, and currently working with 20 partner organisations across the world.
According to Chiedozie, in NextGen, gender responsive breeding was done to make sure that the voices of women were heard.
“So, we do not just go to scientists to give us new breed varieties, but to the village woman who plants cassava and prepares garri or fufu from it,” he said.
The Director General (DG)of National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Dr Phillips Ojo, said the distinct role of NextGen in development of breeding capacities in cassava seed sector had really changed the face of the cassava seed system in Nigeria.
The DG who was represented by Zidafamor Jimmy, Director, Seed Coordination and Management Services, said the focus for cassava was building and transforming the practices of stakeholders in the cassava value chain.
Ojo said that this would help in enhancing the farm-level productivity of our smallholder farmers.
He said the new improved cassava varieties that were released in the country, were expected to have significant impact on food security, enhance farmer incomes, improve agro-industrialization and create jobs.
Ojo said that over the last four decades, researchers have released 54 improved varieties of cassava in Nigeria.
“This is a significant feat as we now have varieties that are fit for purpose and economically viable to encourage large scale participation,” he said.
Dr. Godwin Asumugha, Ag. Executive Director, National Root Crops Research Institute, (NRCRI) Umudike, said NextGen Cassava meeting would reiterate commitments to deploy technology, innovative and global best practices to strengthen cassava for economic diversification.
“In 2020, the Nigeria’s National Crops Release Committee approved the release from NRCRI of five new improved cassava varieties to meet the demand of farmers, processors and consumers,”
He said that NRCRI would continue to support and provide conducive environment for the research activities of the NEXTGEN Project to contribute to the national food security.