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Cameroon releases IITA improved cassava varieties to boost food security

Cameroon releases IITA improved cassava varieties to boost food security

11 September 2012

Cameroon-based IITA scientist Dr Rachid Hannah

The Cameroonian government has released five new improved cassava varieties to help improve the food security of millions of people in the country.

The varieties which were developed through conventional breeding by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and partners are recognized as IITA genotypes as TMS 92/0326, TMS 96/1414, TMS 96/0023, TMS 92/0057, and TMS 92/0067.

The improved varieties were formally released by the Cameroonian Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Essimi Menye; and the Permanent Secretary, Ms Ebelle Etame Rebecca, who represented the Minister of Research and Scientific Innovations.

With an estimated yield of between 20 tons and 35 tons per hectare, the improved varieties have improved nutritional qualities and are rich in caratenoids, iron and zinc.

Partners that worked in the varietal development include the Programme National de Developpement des Racines et Tubercules (PNDRT), the Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (IRAD), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), non-governmental organizations and local farmers.

The varieties will help close the yield gaps, improve yield and also put more money in farmers’ pockets, said the Director General of IITA, Dr Nteranya Sanginga.

Dr Sanginga also said the release of the varieties would help improve the fortunes of farmers who depend on the crop for their livelihoods.

According to him, IITA will continue to support farmers in Cameroon by offering improved varieties and technologies that address the constraints to development in tropical nations.

The Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Menye said the new improved varieties would help Cameroon to take advantage of the opportunities of cassava. He also commended IITA’s efforts in developing the varieties.

Grown by most farmers, cassava is one of the major staples in Cameroon that is contributing to food security and wealth creation.

The crop is either boiled and eaten, or processed into local delicacies such as Mitumba, Baton de manioc, Beignets de manioc, gari, and Ndas among others.

The root crop has also gained industrial importance with uses in ethanol production, High Quality Cassava Flour in bread production, and glucose syrup production.

Despite the strategic role, the root crop is challenged by poor yields, pests and diseases, decreasing soil fertility, and climate change. IITA’s role in addressing these challenges helped Cameroonian farmers to double yields in the past decade.

Farmers who participated in the varietal release process ‘loved’ the varieties for their cooking qualities.

IITA Country Representative, Dr Rachid Hanna said the release of the varieties ‘is significant’ as it would improve the nutrition and livelihoods of farmers in Cameroon.

“We see it as a new dawn for cassava farmers,” he added.

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