Improved Cassava Varieties to Boost Productivity in Agriculture

Improved cassava varieties: Adoption of improved cassava cultivars begins from the decision of farmers to replace old inferior varieties.

Or to supplement their stock of planting materials with new improved varieties or simply by extending cultivated land areas.

Mathematical extrapolations of areas presumed to be plan table from the annual increase of distributed cuttings are insufficient to explain the pattern of adoption of improved varieties.

In southwestern Nigeria, the spread of suitable crop varieties does not usually follow commercial pathways.

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Family relations and neighborhood friends first receive gifts of cuttings from primary recipients.

Occasional sale of prop gules occurs only where buyers appreciate the benefit which they could derive from growing such new varieties.

Perhaps the most important step in adoption is farmers’ awareness of the qualities of improved varieties.

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Improved cassava varieties : Ordinarily, methods used to create awareness among farmers include

(a) on-farm trials;

(b) demonstration plots controlled by agricultural extension agents;

(c) field days for farmers; (d) agricultural shows to which farmers are invited;

(e) personal experience through trial planting, since some farmers are always willing to test any new variety on a small part of their farm.

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Improved cassava varieties : Nigeria has released two improved cassava varieties in an effort to maintain its lead as the world’s largest producer of the root crop and improve incomes 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 recognized as IITA-developed genotypes: IITA-TMS-I982132 and IITA-TMS-I011206.

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But with the official release, they are now known as UMUCASS 42 and UMUCASS 43, respectively.

“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,” says Dr Peter Kulakow, IITA Cassava Breeder.

The 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.

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Improved cassava varieties :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.

Dr Chiedozie Egesi, NRCRI Cassava Breeder, who presented the varieties before the Nigeria Varietal Release committee—the body in charge of officially releasing varieties—said the varieties have the following distinct qualities:

  • Good for high quality cassava flour—a sought-after trait by researchers for the cassava transformation agenda in Nigeria.
  • High dry matter which is positively related to starch and crucial for cassava value chain development
  • 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.

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Over the years, cassava has been transformed from being a “poor man’s” crop to a cash and an industrial crop.

As it is now processed to products such as starch, flour, glucose, and ethanol.

This transition has increased the demand for this root crop.

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Improved cassava varieties : Researchers say developing new improved varieties is one way of boosting the steady supply of cassava roots for value chain development and for industry.

According to Dr Egesi, continuous breeding of such improved new varieties will help in stabilizing production, processing, and marketing of cassava products.

“The impact of these efforts will be felt in areas such as rural employment and a vibrant cassava industrial sector,” he added.

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Improved cassava varieties : The rural small holders farmers are complaining of no market for their cassava.
The main user of cassava eg the distilleries, starch processors are complaining of no raw material.
What could have been the issue?
The Distilleries and other cassava factories are in need of cassava with high starch content to produce starch.
The farmers, majority whom are smallholders are planting the low starch contents of Agbagba, Oko Iyawo etc.
The lower starch contents of cassava are mainly used in the production of garri, akpu or fufu and tapioca.Hence the market is vwry small.

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Improved cassava varieties : For farmers to have more productivity in terms of tonnage yield, market access and more money in their pockets, theirs need to experiments with new variety
The new variety is TME 419.

It gives higher tonnage and higher starch contents
The yield can be up to 20 -40 tonnes per hectare depending on management
This variety is still limited in circulation.

Its only few farmers that have access to it and is already using it.
This is the preferred variety in all the cassava using factories.
I will therefore encourage the would be farmers to seek for the better variety when ever they wants to plant.
A bundle of TME 419 can be purchased for N400. 60 bundles will be required for an hectare.

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You can get the link through IITA or the farmers that has bought from IITA or some source.
For the markets of cassava of high starch contents.

Thai farm in Ososa,Green Tech in Agbara and lots more
Cassava are sold according to starch content.

Walk into any of the companies with the sample of freshly extracted cassava.

The test will be carried out right there and you know at what price to supply per tonnage

Some changes are inevitable if new varieties must be used.

The duration of crop growth implies new planting and harvesting dates.

A 12-month cassava variety must not be harvested in 24 months or at other times.

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Improved cassava varieties : The yield potential of a new variety is usually not attained under peasant farming.

Because of mixture of several varieties, poor crop handling.

Low soil fertility, crop mixtures, suboptimal stem quality, and stand population.

Adoption of varieties does not, therefore, depend only on the presence of inputs.

Which enable farmers to obtain maximum yields.

Many factors govern the adoption of new cassava varieties.

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Under normal circumstances, the willingness of farmers to test and continue to grow new varieties increases with real yield differences between cassava varieties.

When they are planted in their own fields with their own level of crop management; the availability of local markets that can absorb all or most of farm output at fair prices.

Reduced or no increase in demand for family labor for production, processing, transportation, and marketing of produce.

And little or no need for new inputs or difficult operations within prevailing cropping systems.

One important point is that farmers in many localities differ in their principal motive for cultivating cassava.

There are also several micro environmental variables that combine to influence adoption of new varieties.

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Improved cassava varieties : These variables specifically include

(a) Road outlet for output from cassava farms

(b) Transport system;

(c) Cost of product relative to that of transportation;

(d) The absorptive capacity of local markets to which farmers sell their cassava tuberous roots;

(e) Quantity of plan table stems that reach a cassava farmer at planting time;

(f) Quantities of planting stems from the field of a farmer that are replanted after each harvest of the season’s crop.

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