The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said only farmers who grow improved disease-free cassava stems will have access to the N25 billion facility it has created to boost cassava production in Nigeria.
The policy was established to ensure that beneficiaries of the facility have increased productivity (output) so as to be able to repay loans and as well make significant income for themselves. This development was made known by a senior official of the apex bank, Chinedu Ogbonnaya, who represented the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), BASIC-II Cassava Seed Entrepreneurs and Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA) in Abuja, according to a statement from IITA’s digital extension and advisory specialist, Godwin Aster, Thursday.
Mr Ogbonaya said the CBN realised that without the use of improved varieties, cassava production would not be profitable.
“This year, we insisted that cassava growers must plant only improved seeds before they can access our loan facility,” he said.
According to the statement, the CBN said they are targeting more than 100,000 farmers across the states of the federation under its intervention in the cassava sector for this year.
“The amount is split into two – N11 billion allocated to five-star farmers (those growing from five hectares and above) and N14 billion to conventional farmers (those planting between one and four hectares),” he said.
The Project Manager, Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Cassava Seeds System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II), IITA, Lateef Sanni, a professor, said the project would work with the NCGA to ensure the adequate supply of improved cassava varieties to farmers.
“As a project in IITA with the mandate to create a sustainable cassava seed system, we are willing to assist the CBN to achieve its goals,” he said.
The BASICS-II project aims to transform the cassava seed sector by promoting the dissemination of improved varieties thereby creating a community of seed entrepreneurs across the cassava value chain.
The five-year project will focus on Nigeria and Tanzania with spin-offs to other African countries also speaking at the meeting, Chiedozie Egesi, a professor with the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), assured that NRCRI would work with BASICS-II and the NCGA to ensure the availability of improved cassava stems, adding that any cassava grower who does not get improved certified seeds from the right source is starting on a wrong footing.
In a similar manner, the chairperson, Benue State Seed Producers Cooperative Union, Francis Chia, appreciated the major stakeholders for the opportunity given to cassava growers to be part of the cassava revolution in Nigeria.