By Sylvester Thompson
The National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) says under the Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA) project, technologies have been developed to revolutionalise yam production in Nigeria.
Dr Olusegun Ojo, the Director-General of NASC said this during a one-day yam stakeholders’ forum on Yam Value Chain organised by NASC under the YIIFSWA-II project on Thursday in Abuja.
“This has ensured that lots of yam seeds are made available so that farmers could have good quality yam seeds for increased production,’’ he said.
Ojo said that the second phase of the YIIFSWA project had been developed for the use of virus diagnostic tools for clean and disease free seed yam production, among others.
“High ratio propagation technologies such as Temporary Immersion Bioreactor System (TIBS), Aeroponics System (AS) for rapid multiplication of yam seeds/planting materials is to ensure adequate Early Generation Seeds (EGS).
“Also, seed yam health testing equipment were developed and all supplied to NASC under the YIIFSWA II for use,’’ he said.
According to the D-G, these technologies are to tackle poor quality, virus-laden breeder seed yam stock, which reflected on the quality of successive classes of seed yams generated.
Other challenges tackled are inadequacy of early generation seed, EGS yam stock for a sustainable commercial seed yam production and marketing.
“Absence of seed yam quality testing facilities in the regulatory agency laboratory, for seed yam health status test to complete the certification cycle etc have also been tackled,’’ he said.
Ojo said that the NASC had been a key partner in the YIIFSWA project since 2013 when they signed a sub-agreement with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
“Among other objectives is to assist in the development of the formal seed system of yam, coordination of quality seed yam production and delivery, certification and quality control.
“In the course of the implementation of the sub-agreement, numerous achievements were recorded including engagement of six private seed companies for successful production of seed yams,’’ he said.
He said that the YIIFSWA project had imparted positively on the yam seed system in the country.
Mr Ibrahim Kabiru, the President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) and member of the NASC governing body said that the yam system had carved a niche for itself in Nigeria.
Kabiru said that the work NASC had done so far had placed the agency on the apex of other seed councils in Africa.
He said that the seed council deserved a window of funding from the CBN and not just funds coming from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Mr Ebiarede Zidafamor, the Director, Seed Coordination and Management Services of the council said that the forum was to sensitise yam farmers on the need to use improved seed yams for cultivation.
Zidafamor who is also the coordinator of the project said that the forum was also to facilitate interaction among Yam Value Chain actors that would foster production, coordination, partnerships, synergies and linkages to make input sourcing, marketing and exports easier.
“There were a lot of researches involved in the first phase of the YIIFSWA project which culminated in the solutions being proffered to tackle the problems associated with low seed multiplication ratio, among others.
“This was also to ensure the availability of more seed yams in the yam production system,’’ Zidafamor said.
The NASC director said that the IITA was the major implementer of the project, while the NASC was in partnership to implement some aspects of the yam production.
The forum brought together stakeholders and professionals from diverse backgrounds in the agricultural sector.