The Green Innovation Centers for the Agriculture and Food Sector Program (GIAE) – Nigeria funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) has launched an 18-month project to boost maize and cassava production and create job opportunities for Nigerian youth and women in the value chains of the crops. The new project will be implemented by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in four selected states – Kano, Kaduna, Oyo and Ogun.
The project was officially unveiled on Tuesday at an event attended via Zoom by the Commissioners of Agriculture in the four target states. State Agricultural Development Program Managers, leaders of cassava and maize farmers’ associations, and several agricultural stakeholders from the private and public sectors in the target states were also in attendance.
Speaking during the project launch, the Project Manager, Godwin Atser, explained that the program will build capacities of smallholder farmers on productivity and farm safety technologies. And create job opportunities for women and youths through the establishment of commercial seed enterprises for retailing of disease-free improved stems, marketing of aflasafe and purdue improved crop storage (PICS) bags an improved agricultural storage bag.
According to him, the project addresses three major activity areas which are: integrated pest management (IPM) with a special focus on tackling the presence of the invasive arthropod pest, Fall Army Worm (FAW); aflatoxin and food safety with special focus on training of female maize growers, household caregivers and other actors on food safety and pre-/post-harvest management; and building a cassava seed system where farmers will be involved in the production and sale of quality cassava stems to generate additional income.”
“The geographic coverage of the maize value chain is Kaduna and Kano; and for the cassava value chain is Ogun and Oyo,” he added.
He said the grant will also increase the capacity of farmers and extension agents in modern maize and cassava production using digitalized solutions on good agricultural practices (GAP), Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management and Best Planting Practices, and other IITA digital tools like the herbicide calculator, AKILIMO, Seed Tracker, and cassava e-market.
Ms. Sanne Chipeta, Head of Project, Green Innovation Center for the Agriculture and Food Sector—Nigeria, GIZ noted that the collaboration with IITA will help to further improve productivity and food safety in the value chains, contributing to food and nutritional security. In addition, the individual activities will help to create new employment and livelihood opportunities, especially for young men and women. She expressed optimism that the collaboration with IITA would overall add value and create positive results in the maize and cassava value chain.
It is understood that to execute the project in the target states, IITA as well as previous projects implemented by GIZ in the target states will leverage on the knowledge generated by previous and ongoing projects like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II); AgResults Aflasafe, African Cassava agronomy Initiative (ACAI), IFAD-Zero Hunger Project, Youth in Agribusiness Projects and TAAT Programs; ongoing State and Federal Government-funded agricultural programs including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)-Anchor Borrowers Program that is being implemented by several state governments for various value chains.