IITA hosts 1st Cassava business summit

The maiden cassava business summit to bring attention to the importance of creating a formal system in cassava sector was hosted on Tuesday by International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the virtual summit had over 92 cassava seed sector stakeholders in attendance.

It was convened by Sahel Consulting Agriculture and Nutrition Limited, with the theme: “The Critical Roles of Stakeholders in Promoting Access to Quality Cassava Stems.”

A key objective was to provide a platform for actors in the cassava seed sector for an economically viable and sustainable formal cassava seed system.

Speaking at the summit, Mr Temitope Adegoroye, said the programme sought to encourage private sector actors in the emerging formal seed system for cassava in Nigeria.

He highlighted the low yield challenges of smallholder cassava farmers in Nigeria despite the country accounting for approximately 20 per cent of global cassava production.

According to him, there are opportunities in the cassava seed system sub-sector to catalyze Nigeria’s agricultural transformation.

He noted, however, that these opportunities had not been fully tapped for job creation, income generation, and food security.

Adegoroye further stated that the first Cassava Seed Business Summit was held for effective collaboration among all cassava stakeholders to maximize the potential in the value chain.

Also speaking, Dr Alfred Dixon, the Director, Development & Delivery at IITA, emphasized the significance of cassava as an engine in Africa’s socio-economic growth and development.

Dixon said that increasing competitiveness in the cassava value chain would ensure food security, alleviate poverty, and improve livelihoods in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa.

Also, Elder Emmanuel Ijewere, Vice-president of Nigeria Agribusiness Group; Pastor Segun Adewumi, President of Cassava Growers Association of Nigeria; and Mr Charles Adeniji, President, Industrial Cassava Stakeholders Association of Nigeria, delivered goodwill messages.

They expressed excitement at the emergence of a platform that served as a discussion forum for stakeholders in the cassava seed sector.

Furthermore, they underscored the increasing demand for quality cassava stems and the opportunities within the cassava seed system.

Similarly, Dr Joseph Onyeka, Director at National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), who represented his Executive Director, Prof. Joseph Ukpabi, expressed delight at the emergence of the Cassava Seed Business Summit at this crucial time.

He emphasised that the summit would assist in mobilizing capital and human resources to ensure timely, adequate, and profitable interventions in the cassava value chain.

Dr Phillip Ojo, Director-General of Nigeria Agricultural Seeds Council, said the summit was timely as it came when Nigeria was faced with challenges that a robust cassava seed sector could address.

In his closing remark, Prof. Lateef Sanni, Project Manager, promised to promote engagement with the private sector actors in cassava seed production, as they were crucial for cassava transformation. (NAN)

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