NASC, NRCRI commence training of cassava seeds inspection officers
The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and National Root Crop Research Institute (NRCRI) has commenced training of 18 third party agency for cassava seeds inspection in Benue state.
The inspections officers are expected to assist the seeds council on certification of quality cassava seeds to smallholder cassava farmers.
Declaring the training open in Makurdi Benue State, NASC Director General, said the project aims to develop a sustainable cassava seed system and the production of well trained third party agents which will further bolster the sustainability of the cassava seed system that NASC and other implementing partners envisage.
He said, “in the last three years, the BASICS project developed novel to technologies like semis autotrophic Hydroponics (SAH) technology for speeding up the propagation of clean cassava planting materials, the cassava seed tracker, which is the first of its kind anywhere in the world, adding that this will entrench efficiency and traceability in the cassava seed system band molecular laboratory for cassava seed diagnostics testing.
“The council embarked on aggressive nationwide training of seed certification officers for cassava certification. In 2017 and 2018, the council certified 650 hectares and 1000 hectares of cassava seed fields respectively.
“In the company, we anticipate an upsurge in the production of improved cassava planting materials and hence an increase in hectrage for cassava seed production. You may wish to note that that the number of seed companies has witnessed a dramatic increase from 156 in 2017 to 314 as of today with over 250 applications from prospective entrepreneurs.
“In the face of this awesome growth in the sector and to avoid overburdening our certification officers who are already saddled with the annual certification of about 40,000 hectares, NASC deem it fit to engage you all to complement our few officers that are involved in cassava seed quality assurances under the pilot scheme.
“Therefore, our convergence here today is to acquaint you with cassava seed system and certification protocols, equip you with the skills needed to carry out cassava seed certification and to expose you to the use of cassava seed tracker,” he said.
Dr. Ojo however warned that the officers would be closely monitored and that any agent found guilty of compromising seed quality will be met with the full wrath of the law, saying the Council takes the quality of any crop seed seriously.
Also the BASICS Project, Director with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Dr Hemant Nittukar
said the training is for Nigeria economic development, since cassava is a major staple in the country, adding that the training of the officers will boost production and increase quality cassava seeds certification for smallholder farmers.
He said the training of the Benue cassava seed inspectors officer was a pilot programmes that may be extended to all part of Nigeria with the success of the project.