SANO Foods Limited and IITA, through the Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Cassava Seed System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II) project, have embarked on a public-private sector partnership to promote the cultivation of improved cassava varieties and the consumption of locally processed products in Nigeria. The initiative recently kicked off with a “Joint public exhibition of fortified foods and cassava varietal display” at IITA, Ibadan.The exhibition displayed newly released cassava varieties such as Game Changer, Obasanjo-2, Hope, Poundable, and Baba-70. Other displayed varieties were TME 419, Farmer’s Pride, Dixon, Ayaya, Sunshine, and Fine face. All these varieties have yields above 20 t/ha, unlike local varieties that give less than 10 t/ha. The processed foods on display included fortified orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) garri, OFSP bread, and lemongrass tea.

BASICS-II kicks off partnership to promote improved cassava varieties cultivation and consumption
Development and Delivery Office Director, Alfred Dixon, cuts the ribbon to kick off the exhibition.

The deal will create awareness about the newly released cassava varieties and draw consumers’ attention to the availability of locally made and nutritious food products designed to tackle malnutrition.

The IITA Yam Improvement for Incomes and Food Security in West Africa, Phase II (YIFSWA-II) displayed improved yam varieties and products, while the IITA mechanization unit showcased locally fabricated cassava harvesters.

In his keynote address, IITA Deputy Director-General (Partnerships for Delivery), Kenton Dashiell, noted that breeders were progressing well in developing crop varieties but needed the inputs of other stakeholders like the government and processors, who would add value to the research products. The final development requires partnerships and collaboration with the private sector to add value to these crops. “I believe that is what SANO is doing, and I’m sure we will get to learn more from them,” he emphasized.

The IITA Development and Delivery Office Director, Alfred Dixon, described the SANO-BASICS-II partnership as a “win-win collaboration.” He stressed the need to harness cassava’s potential as a poverty fighter to create jobs, fight food insecurity, and boost Nigeria’s economy.

BASICS-II kicks off partnership to promote improved cassava varieties cultivation and consumption
IITA’s International Trials Manager, Peter Iluebbey, showcasing an improved cassava variety

“Together, we will create an economically sustainable cassava value chain where every actor will have a space and benefit from cassava,” Dixon continued. “We will raise awareness and trigger the adoption of these varieties by farmers.”

SANO Foods Acting General Manager, Mr Solomon Ojeleye, pointed out SANO’s vision to provide healthy foods rich in vitamins. He identified turmeric garri and OFSP garri as two products the company developed through research to add nutritional value to cassava.

He said, “We have over 39 products in the market, and all of them are organic because we put the health of our consumers first. We use puree, flour, and roots of yellow cassava, orange-fleshed sweet potato, yellow maize, and other crops to produce several confectioneries that include bread, cookies and cakes, and baby food.

According to Mercy Diebiru-Ojo, Vegetative Seed Production Expert at IITA GoSeeed, some new and improved varieties currently being promoted boast high vitamin A content. They also have excellent garri and fufu qualities and superb dry matter content, and these are important properties for food processors, flour millers, and industries.

IITA BASICS-II Project Manager, Prof. Lateef Sanni, said working with organizations like SANO Foods would advance the cassava value chain.

Other scientists who spoke at the event were: Michael Abberton, IITA Director for West Africa Hub; Ismail Rabbi, IITA Molecular Geneticist and Breeder; and YIIFSWA-II Tissue Culture Specialist, Morufat Balogun. Engr. Thierno Diallo, IITA Post-Harvest Engineer, also made a presentation on locally produced cassava harvesters.