The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has appointed a former Deputy Vice Chancellor (Development), Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State, Prof. Lateef Sanni, as the Project Manager of the phase two of its cassava seed system project known as Building Economically Sustainable Cassava Seed Systems (BASICS-II).
This was disclosed in a press release issued on Thursday by IITA Digital Extension and Advisory Services Specialist, Godwin Atser.
According to the statement, BASICS II aims to transform the cassava seed sector by promoting the breeding, and dissemination of improved varieties thereby creating a community of seed entrepreneurs across the cassava value chain.
“The project will focus on Nigeria and Tanzania with a spin over effect on other African countries,” Atser said.
The first phase of the Bill & Melinda Gates funded project which ran from 2016 to 2019, linked breeders and researchers who developed improved cassava varieties and technologies with farmers and processors who benefitted from high quality planting materials. It created a viable cassava seed system in Nigeria and led to the emergence of over 150 community based seed entrepreneurs in states like Benue, Cross River, Abia and Imo. The project led then by Dr. Hemant Nitturkar also facilitated the establishment of two seed companies (namely IITA GoSeed located on the IITA campus in Ibadan, and Umudike Seed at National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) in Umudike, Abia State).
IITA will implement BASICS-II in collaboration with partners: Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), IITA GoSeed, Umudike Seed, Sahel Consulting, Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), and Tanzania Official Seed Certification (TOSCI).
The new head, Prof Sanni, has 30 years experience in research, consultancy and collaboration as a postharvest expert on tropical root crops mostly implemented by the Natural Resources Institute, United Kingdom; Association of African Universities; West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD); and the International Society for Tropical Root Crop.
In 2008, Prof. Sanni won the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Award in Regional Technology Development in sub-Saharan Africa.
He served as the Postharvest Scientist with the Cassava Mosaic Disease Project and Cassava Enterprises Development Project (CEDP), at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria from 2004 to 2007. Prof. Sanni is skilled in managing complex multi-disciplinary projects. For instance, he successfully implemented the IITA-Common Fund for Commodities project with partners (Belgian NGO, Veco Benin; National Agricultural Research Centre in Benin; Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI), Sierra Leone; and the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, Abuja, Nigeria) from 2008 to 2012.
Prior to this appointment, Prof. Sanni successfully served as the Country Manager for Nigeria in a five-country project, Cassava: Adding Value for Africa II (CAVA and CAVA II) hosted in the Natural Resources Institute of the Greenwich University, Maritime, UK; and the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria. The CAVA and CAVA II projects were sponsored by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation from May 2008 to March 2019. While at FUNAAB, he also coordinated IITA-African Cassava Agronomy Initiative’s component on the validation and dissemination of IITA-ACAI recommendations to commercial farmers.
Prof. Sanni is a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology, Institute of Management Consultants Nigeria, and the President, International Society for Tropical Root Crops.