IITA Names Federal Agric Varsity Ex-DVC Cassava Seed System Project Manager

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has named the former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development), of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Lateef Oladimeji Sanni, as the Leader of the second phase of the project Building Economically Sustainable and Integrated Cassava Seed System (BASICS II). 

The project will last for a period of five years.

The BASICS project was first launched in November 2015 to serve as a channel for delivering better quality and more productive cassava varieties to farmers. 

It is leading to improved productivity and food security, increasing the income of cassava farmers and village seed entrepreneurs as a result. 

Building on this solid foundation, the second phase of the project will focus on Nigeria and Tanzania and replicate the cassava seed system model to other African countries.

IITA Deputy Director General, Partnerships for Delivery, Kenton Dashiell, in his opening remarks says in the second phase of the project, BASICS is looking to create a value chain for cassava planting materials where everyone will make an income. 

“It is all about business”, he adds.

Commending Project Manager for BASICS I, Hemant Nitturkar, and welcoming the manager for BASICS II, IITA Director General, Nteranya Sanginga, says the project transitioned well from phase one to two. 

“I have seen a lot of ‘revolution’ in the cassava system for these past five years through this project. The proof of the concept is that what we do in these two countries can extend to other countries. Thanks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for giving us the opportunity, and for the support to Africa”. he said.

Participating virtually, Senior Programme Officer from the Gates Foundation, Lawrence Kent, also expressed his satisfaction with the progress of the project, pointing out, “I am excited about the achievements of phase 1 and look forward to seeing phase 2 take it further.”

He reminded the project implementers to look at the endpoint—what would be different for farmers as a result of the project, e.g., in the area of improved seeds, best varieties and quality, strong businesses, engagement in the value chain, the establishment of competitive seed entrepreneurs or foundation seed growers.

President and CEO of the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) in Canada, Dorothy Nyambi, echoing Sanginga, pointed to the importance of scaling—taking the work to other countries and leveraging on private sector solutions. 

She applauded the strong message of collaboration, sustainability, commercialization, and scale forwarded by various partners.

Director, Department of Agriculture and Agro-Industry of the African Development Bank, Martine Fregene, says there is still a “huge room for improvement in cassava production…and the project needs to ensure that farmers have access to healthy stems.”

Executive Director of Foundation for Partnership in the Niger Delta (PIND), Dara Akala, in his goodwill message, indicated the commitment of PIND in partnering with IITA on the project since both institutes have cassava as one of their priority crops. 

“The partnership will focus on scaling and sustaining the seed system in the Niger Delta region”, he says.

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Sabo Nanono, giving a keynote address stated that the government will continue to support the BASICS project by providing all resources needed for its execution.

Project Administrator and Administrative Support for Partnerships for Delivery at IITA, Ezinne Ibe, while wrapping up the launch programme says, “the work has just begun, and it started on a good note.”.

Leave a Comment