The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture’s (IITA) GoSeed in Ibadan and Umudike Seeds based at the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umuahia, have jointly commissioned two brand new 18-ton trucks to ease logistical challenges in moving cassava seed.
NRCRI’s mandate is to research into the genetic improvement, production, processing, storage utilization and socio-economies of root and tuber crops of economic importance.
GoSeed is, however, concerned with access to clean, improved varieties of seeds remain a major challenge to achieving high productivity and profitability in agricultural production in Africa.
Improved seed varieties may be unavailable, sold at high costs or sold in adulterated forms to smallholder farmers in rural areas, thereby promoting the use farmer-saved seeds.
This has contributed to consistently low yields and poor income levels, increased rural poverty and under-development in the sector.
The IITA GoSeed is passionate about improving farmers’ access to clean seeds and creating a viable seed ecosystem in Nigeria and across Africa.
It was established in 2016 as a unit of the IITA Business Incubation Platform (BIP) and registered as a Limited Liability Company. It is domiciled at the headquarters of IITA in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
IITA GoSeed is responsible for the commercial promotion of the early generation seeds of the improved crop varieties generated by IITA and other CGIAR Centres across the globe. Its focus crops include banana, cassava, cowpea, maize, plantain, rice, soybean and yam.
It produces and sells high-quality breeder and foundation seed of these crop varieties to seed producers in the seed system in Nigeria and across Africa at affordable prices.
Working with seed experts, seed producers and other stakeholders across the various value chains, it ensures the downstream movement of seeds to farmers toward transforming their productivity, income and livelihoods.
IITA Director General, Nteranya Sanginga, presided over the ceremony at the Agricultural Transformation building of the Institute’s headquarters in Ibadan. The trucks were purchased with support from the Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Seed System (BASICS-I) project.
The project is developing an economically sustainable and integrated cassava seed system characterized by the commercial production and sales of cassava planting material that spans the seed value chain.
The project is addressing the cassava production constraint of access to planting materials through the development and promotion of commercial models for seed provision.
The objective of the project is to develop a sustainable seed system for Nigeria that is based on the commercial sale of cassava planting material that is produced with high-quality standards that are certified by the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC).
Cassava has the potential to provide more than twice the amount of food and income it is currently providing to farmers, processors, seed producers, and consumers. The way to maximize the potential of cassava is to strengthen the seed system by ensuring that quality early generation seed of improved varieties is made available to farmers at the right time and quantities.
IITA GoSeed was launched under the BASICS-I project to handle the production and commercial sale of certified early generation cassava seed.
Speaking at the event, Sanginga congratulated IITA GoSeed Vegetative Manager, Mercy Elahor Diebiru-Ojo, and the entire IITA GoSeed team for the progress made in distributing quality seed, especially during the current COVID-19 crisis.
“I can only be proud of GoSeed and IITA”, he says.
Mercy, a Nigerian, is the Assistant Specialist, Cassava Seed Systems at IITA-Ibadan. Mercy is a plant breeder who gained her PhD degree in Plant Breeding and Genetics (2017) from the University of Ghana under the WACCI scholarship while her Master and Bachelor degrees were obtained from the University of Ibadan and Delta State University respectively both in Nigeria.
Elohor has worked extensively on cassava from plant conservation via tissue culture and cryopreservation techniques during her position as a research fellow and research supervisor at the Genetic Resources Centre of IITA.
She worked on genetics and physiology flowering of cassava as PhD research, which is one of the objectives of the NextGen cassava breeding project. She is involved in breeding activities of the Cassava breeding unit of IITA.
Due to her remarkable research work, she became a Norman Borlaug LEAP fellow having an aspect of her research work carried out at Cornell University where she held the post of a visiting scientist.
Her previous job was an International Trials Manager with the BASICS seed systems project at IITA, a position she held till April 2018 and rapidly garnered experiences in cassava seed value chain.
IITA Deputy Director General Partnerships for Delivery Kenton Dashiell, commissioned the trucks with the IITA big boss. Dashiell appreciated the BASICS I and II projects for extending the use of the trucks to transport seed and planting materials of all IITA mandate crops after RTB Project Management Officer, Richard Ofei, had mentioned that the use of the trucks is not limited to transporting cassava alone.
“This is for the benefit of African agriculture as farmers can easily get access to good seed”, Dashiell said.
IITA GoSeed’s partnership with the BASICS I project continues into BASICS II. GoSeed is also open for a partnership to help provide quality and improved varieties of seed to seed companies and farmers.