The Quality Seed (QS) component of the BASICS project is being implemented by a consortium of Nigerian and international partners, led by the UK’s Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera). Capacity building is a central thrust of the component, as it works to increase the capacity of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) to develop and implement appropriate and enabling seed quality standards. As part of this effort the QS component focuses on providing molecular diagnostic testing services for pests and cultivar authenticity, as well as knowledge tools for field certification and for tracking seed production. The component is actively strengthening the evidence base for setting breeder and non-breeder certification standards, and validating protocols and training on their use. Expert training programs are another component initiative for helping to build capacity of NASC staff. Specialist partners in Nigeria (IITA and NRCRI), the UK (Fera), and through South-South linkages with sister certification agencies in East Africa (e.g., the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services) are delivering trainings in key areas such as [INSERT EXAMPLES PLEASE].
IITA’s Plant Health Unit works under Fera’s overall leadership to help build NASC’s capacity to develop and refine cassava seed certification protocols for breeder, foundation, and commercial seed production which are critical for a commercial cassava seed system to emerge. IITA is also helping to develop and apply innovative diagnostics, where appropriate, to support seed certification, and is leading seed degeneration activities in cassava under Nigerian conditions to document the value addition of seed replacement.
Once these activities are implemented successfully, an enabling environment for the commercialization of breeders and non-breeder’s cassava seed will be in place, allowing the NASC to develop and carry out efficient, cost-effective seed certification and cultivar-recommended listing services. This will advance NASC’s mission of “Ensuring the supply of good quality seed” (http://www.seedcouncilngr.org/) by enhancing its operational capacity. Other activities under the QS component aim to develop increased capabilities in molecular diagnostics for cassava mosaic geminiviruses, cultivar authenticity, development and application of field-seed certification tools, use of digital pest and cultivar identification aids, and use of a web-based Cassava Seed Tracker (CST) database (available at http://seedtracker.org/cassava/).
The QS component is working toward two primary project outcomes:
- Farmers planting quality seed of market-driven varieties increase their income.
- Potential for commercialization of breeders and non-breeder’s cassava seed is enhanced by having the NASC provide efficient, market sustainable services for seed certification and listing of recommended cultivars.