IITA and partners rename improved cassava varieties for the international market

The Federal Government of Nigeria recently approved new names for 10 improved cassava varieties as part of efforts to brand the root crop for easy identification, cultivation, and marketing of cassava stems.

The renamed varieties comprise six released varieties and four yet-to be-released varieties. The released varieties and their new names are IBA961632 (Farmer’s Pride), IBA980581 (Dixon), CR36-5 (Ayaya), IBA070593 (Sunshine), and IBA980505 (Fine Face). TME 419, which is popular among farmers, remained unchanged. The yet-to-be-released varieties include TMS13F1160P0004 (Game Changer), TMS13F1343P0022 (Obasanjo-2), NR130124 (Hope), and TMEB693 (Poundable).

Cassava is a major staple crop grown in about 40 countries across Africa and that feeds millions on the Continent. With about 90% of production taking place in small farms, cassava is mostly grown by smallholder farmers in the rural areas with little access to improved technologies to increase their productivity. Yet, research has been a major contributor to helping the smallholder farmers in Africa increase their productivity and profit, with the release of improved varieties that promote increased yield and are resistant to pests and diseases.

While these improved varieties have code names, research shows that these names are not easy for most farmers to adopt and remember. This led IITA, in collaboration with partners and major stakeholders, to organize an event to rename selected improved varieties.

The virtual event was attended by major stakeholders in the cassava sector within and outside Nigeria.

Speaking at the event, the representative of the Minister for Agriculture in Nigeria, Karima Babangida, Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, said that it was a welcome development since cassava is a major crop in Nigeria. “With the new names, it will make it easier for farmers to pronounce and identify these

According to IITA Deputy Director General (Partnerships for Delivery), Kenton Dashiell, “The renaming of the varieties will help the cassava sector in a big way.”

During his opening remarks, Prof Ukpabi C. Ukpabi, Executive Director of the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike said, “The renaming of improved varieties will change the game in the seed system of root and tuber crops in Nigeria and also serve as a model for other African countries.”

Most end-users find it difficult to remember code names of improved cassava varieties, which can lead to a mix-up during sourcing, so substituting them with brand names will make it easier for people to identify them. The renaming also targets promoting the adoption of the varieties among farmers. Major stakeholders like farmers, “seedpreneurs,” and scientists participated in the naming process.

Chiedozie Egesi, Project Manager for the NextGen Cassava Breeding (NextGen Cassava) project, during the ceremony, said, “We know that cassava production has evolved from subsistence to industrial, with cassava becoming an economic crop. This is changing the lives of farmers, seed entrepreneurs, and processors at an industrial scale. Substituting the official names of the varieties with simpler or more relatable brand names will make farmers more familiar and closer to the varieties.”

Further reiterating the significance of the event, Lateef Sanni, Project Manager of Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated and Economically Sustainable Cassava Seed System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II), said, “Cassava is an engine for creating wealth and farmers need to have marketable names to be able to sell to the international market.”

From the BASICS-II project, two early generation seed companies, IITA GoSeed and Umudike Seeds, have been set up to ensure the production and commercialization of breeder and foundation seeds in a sustainable manner to ensure constant access to quality planting material of improved varieties,” Sanni explained.

The naming of the varieties was facilitated by BASICS-II that is being led by IITA and NextGen Cassava in partnership with NRCRI.

 Women traders in a cassava market in Southwest Nigeria.

Women traders in a cassava market in Southwest Nigeria.

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