As various farming methods are being introduced in the country, farmers in Kogi and Benue states of Nigeria are excited at the large sizes and number of roots being produced with the new cassava varieties; ‘Baba-70’ and ‘Game Changer’. The new varieties, when cultivated with good agronomic practices and weed control, can produce more than 30 tonnes per hectare instead of the current national average yield of eight tonnes. According to some breeders, while Game Changer can produce 32 tonnes per hectare, Baba 70 can produce 38 tonnes, just as the new cultivars are drought-tolerant and resistant to virus diseases of cassava. At the farmers’ field day and product launch, breeders were excited about the new varieties, which were developed by the NextGen project. They spoke about the difference between the new varieties and the old ones, saying Baba 70 and Game Changer yielded more than local varieties.
At the occasion, a molecular geneticist and plant breeder at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Oyo State, Dr. Ismail Rabbi, said that years of consumer preference studies were conducted before releasing the varieties and that “In addition to high yield and stress tolerance, we found that these varieties are suitable for several agro-ecologies. Farmers, processors and consumers love these varieties because they were high-yielding, stress-tolerant, disease-resistant and have the right food properties”. The Head of IITA GoSeed, Dr. Mercy Diebiru-Ojo informed that the varieties would help raise the livelihood of farmers, adding that “I am confident that farmers, who adopt these varieties, would make more profit and improve their livelihood. These varieties are also a huge contribution to food security,” she said.