Nigeria farmers now have cause to smile as the Federal Government has released two improved cassava varieties.
The release of the new improved cassava varieties is a concerted effort by the government to maintain its position as one of the world’s leading producer of crop and also improve the income of farmers.
The varieties were developed through a collaborative effort between the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Nigerian Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike.
The two varieties are originally recognised as IITA developed genotypes: IITA-TMS-I982132 and IITA-TMS-I011206.
But with the official release, they are to be known as UMUCASS 42 and UMUCASS 43 respectively.
According to IITA Cassava Breeder, Dr. Peter Kulakow, “Both varieties performed well in different cassava production regions of Nigeria with high yield, high dry matter and good disease resistance. The roots of these varieties are yellow and contain moderate levels of pro-Vitamin A.”
Potential maximum yield of the two varieties is between 49 and 53 tons per hectare, according to pre-varietal release trials that were conducted between 2008 and 2010. Local varieties produce less than 10 tons per hectare.
“The impact of these efforts will be felt in areas such as rural employment and a virile cassava industrial sector,”
The varieties are also resistant to major pests and diseases that affect cassava in the country including cassava mosaic disease, cassava bacterial blight, cassava anthracnose, cassava mealybug and cassava green mite.
The Nigeria Varietal Release committee is the body charge officially with releasing the various cassava varieties.
National Root Crop Research Institute (NRCRI) Cassava Breeder, Dr Chiedozie Egesi, noted that continuous breeding of the improved new varieties will help in stabilising production, processing and marketing of cassava products.
“The impact of these efforts will be felt in areas such as rural employment and a virile cassava industrial sector,” he added.
The improved new cassava varieties would not only be good for high quality cassava flour, it also has a high dry matter which is positively related to starch and crucial for cassava value chain development.
More so, it has a high leaf retention which is positively related to drought tolerance and is crucial for cassava production in the drier regions and in mitigating the impact of climate change and moderate levels of betacarotene for enhancing nutrition.
Over the years, cassava has transformed from being a “poor man’s” crop to now a cash crop and an industrial crop, as cassava is being processed to products such as starch, flour, glucose and ethanol. This transition has placed demand on cassava.
Researchers say developing new improved varieties is one way that will boost the steady supply of cassava roots whose demand has continued to increase.