IITA launches BASICS-II project

5 July 2020

On 25 June, IITA launched the second phase of the project Building an Economically Sustainable and Integrated Cassava Seed System (BASICS II). With a duration of 5 years, BASICS II will be led by Project Manager Lateef Oladimeji Sanni, former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development), Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria.

The BASICS project was first launched in November 2015 to serve as a channel for delivering better quality and more productive cassava varieties to farmers. Thus, leading to improved productivity and food security, increasing the income of cassava farmers and village seed entrepreneurs as a result. Building on this solid foundation, the second phase of the project will focus on Nigeria and Tanzania and replicate the cassava seed system model to other African countries.

DG Nteranya Sanginga talking about the transition of the BASICS project from phase I to II.
DG Nteranya Sanginga talking about the transition of the BASICS project from phase I to II.

In his opening remarks, Kenton Dashiell, IITA Deputy Director General, Partnerships for Delivery, said that in the second phase of the project, BASICS is looking to create a value chain for cassava planting materials where everyone will make an income. “It is all about business,” he said.

Commending Hemant Nitturkar, Project Manager for BASICS I, and welcoming the manager for BASICS II, IITA Director General, Nteranya Sanginga said that the project transitioned well from phase one to two. “I have seen a lot of ‘revolution’ in the cassava system for these past five years through this project. The proof of the concept is that what we do in these two countries can extend to other countries. Thanks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for giving us the opportunity and for the support to Africa,” he said.

Participating virtually, Lawrence Kent, Senior Program Officer from the Gates Foundation, also expressed his satisfaction with the progress of the project. He said, “I am excited about the achievements of phase 1 and look forward to seeing phase 2 take it further.”

Laurence Good, Senior Program Officer from the Gates Foundation, reminded the project implementers to look at the end point—what would be different for farmers as a result of the project, e.g., in the area of improved seeds, best varieties and quality, strong businesses, engagement in the value chain, establishment of competitive seed entrepreneurs or foundation seed growers.

Dorothy Nyambi, President and CEO of the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) in Canada, echoing DG Sanginga, pointed to the importance of scaling—taking the work to other countries and leveraging on private sector solutions. She applauded the strong message of collaboration, sustainability, commercialization, and scale forwarded by various partners.

Martine Fregene, Director, Department of Agriculture and Agro-Industry of the African Development Bank, said there is still a “huge room for improvement in cassava production…and the project needs to ensure that farmers have access to healthy stems.”

In his goodwill message, Dr Dara Akala, Executive Director of Foundation for Partnership in the Niger Delta (PIND), indicated the commitment of PIND in partnering with IITA on the project since both institutes have cassava as one of their priority crops. “The partnership will focus on scaling and sustaining the seed system in the Niger Delta region,” he said.

Giving the keynote address, Honorable Minister Alhaji Sabo Nanono of the Federal Ministry Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) of Nigeria, stated that the government would continue to support the BASICS project by providing all resources needed for its execution.

“The work has just begun, and it started on a good note,” said Ezinne Ibe, Project Administrator and Administrative Support for Partnerships for Delivery at IITA, while wrapping up the launch program.