The second phase of the Building an Economically Sustainable and Integrated Cassava Seed System (BASICS-II), a five-year project was awarded to IITA and its partners and launched on June 25, 2020.

Building on the solid foundations created by the BASICS-I and BEST projects in Nigeria and Tanzania respectively, the project aims to transform the cassava seed sector by promoting the dissemination of improved varieties thereby creating a community of seed entrepreneurs across the cassava value chain. The project will focus on Nigeria and Tanzania and replicate the cassava seed system model in other African countries. It will nurture the development of a sustainable Early Generation Seed system through public-private partnerships, and link the seed system to networks of entrepreneurs and processors that are ready to multiply, distribute, and sell clean stems of new and improved cassava varieties emanating from linked breeding programmes.

To improve their yields and income, African cassava farmers need regular and reliable access to high quality planting materials of the newest and best varieties. Access to such cassava stems, however, is often a problem. Seed companies and agrodealers do not sell cassava stems, and free distribution by NGOs and government programmes is sporadic and unreliable. Consequently, many cassava farmers are obliged to save stems of older varieties grown in their own fields or buy uncertified stems in informal markets of questionable quality and unknown identity.

The goal of the BASICS-II project is to provide farmers with access to affordable, quality-assured seeds of the cassava varieties in demand by local food and processor markets through the establishment of a commercially viable seed value chain operating across breeder, foundation, and commercial seed levels. This value chain will enable more efficient dissemination and adoption of new varieties to improve productivity, raise incomes of cassava growers and seed entrepreneurs, enhance gender equity, and contribute to inclusive agricultural transformation in Nigeria and Tanzania.

BASICS-II is linked directly with an ongoing investment in modernizing cassava breeding and will work with Early Generation Seed companies to multiply breeder and foundation seeds that will be passed on to cassava seed entrepreneurs for the production of certified seeds for onward dissemination to farmers. The project will also work with cassava processors with outgrower schemes to multiply certified seeds for farmers. The project will ensure that improved varieties of cassava are disseminated in a structured and sustainable manner through the seed system. Customer feedback and sales data generated by seed system actors will be continuously shared with breeders to inform both the refining of their target product profiles and product advancement decisions.

Sahel Consulting is leading the Processor-Led Model component (PLM) of the BASICS-II project focused on the development of a processor-associated seed system. The goal of the PLM is to demonstrate that processors can produce planting material that features profit-maximizing processing characteristics for their farms and outgrowers in an economically sustainable and replicable manner.