Quality Seed Component
The BASICS Quality Seed Component (QSC), is led by Fera Science Limited (UK) and through active participative leadership of National Agricultural Seed Council of Nigeria (NASC) it aims to build on and transform the existing cassava seed certification regime of Nigeria. Through BASICS, fit-for-purpose, economically viable seed certification services will be provided at Breeder, Foundation and Certified seed levels.
The effective provision of regulatory seed certification services by NASC underpins the success of a Nigeria’s cassava seed industry. Seed certification delivers at least three critical outcomes:
- Assurance on the quality of seed for optimal yield
- A pathway for the rapid deployment of new crop varieties
- Information on pest prevalence levels and ‘first report’ capability for regulated, emerging or new pests and diseases
The prevailing situation in Nigeria is characterized by farmers growing cassava from planting material of dubious quality and with limited access to the full range of varieties listed as recommended. Pests and diseases, frequently carried with vegetative seed, continue to reduce yield and market quality. This is especially true for Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) which presents an ongoing threat to susceptible varieties and has the potential to evolve new virulence to overcome the tolerance or resistance bred into some varieties. Similarly, the threat of Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) entering into Nigeria is high as the disease continues to spread with vegetative seed across sub-Saharan Africa, causing significant losses. The risk of the disease entering into Nigeria is extremely high. The early identification of an outbreak of CBSD will be critical to controlling the spread of the disease.
As the mandated authority for the development and regulation of the national seed industry, NASC has recently established its ambition to be the ‘Centre of Excellence’ for the seed industry in West Africa (NASC-CoESI). This initiative sets out to “build and sustain a seed industry that will define agricultural economy not only for Nigeria but for west Africa, for the attainment of food security.”
As a part of BASICS, Fera is working closely with NASC to develop industry-responsive seed certification protocols for all seed classes, and improve the capacity of the certification officers to offer the certification services across the seed growing locations in Nigeria. BASICS also aims to develop the molecular diagnostic testing capability at NASC for CMD viruses, which can also test for CBSD viruses, and pilot cost-optimization strategies like third-party certification. Another key innovation NASC is implementing through the project is to pilot an e-certification service by application of information and technology tools. Cassava Seed Tracker is an initiative to allow transactions, traceability and real-time information to benefit all stakeholders.
Under BASICS, NASC has set out the following project vision: “Increased level of capacity and service delivery by NASC enables commercial cassava seed producers to conform to appropriate seed certification standards and checks the distribution of non-certified seed.”