Commercializing Quality Cassava Planting Material Delivery System in Uganda (CSS)

Donor: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through, National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO)

Duration: 2014-2017

Introduction.  Cassava is a major staple for more than 200 million people in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. In Uganda, 74% of farming households grow cassava and the majority of them are poverty-stricken communities with very limited access to markets. In Uganda, over 96% of cassava farmers access low cassava planting materials from their own fields or from fellow farmers whether these are improved varieties or landraces. Two viral diseases CBSD and CMD, are responsible for low yield and low-quality planting materials; perpetuated by the use of virus-infected cuttings. No system had been put in place in Uganda to efficiently regulate the production and dissemination of quality/certified cassava planting materials.

Aims and Objectives. The project aimed to develop a profitable, functional system for production of quality cassava planting materials of improved varieties. The specific objectives were to;

1) enhance production of cassava pre-basic and basic materials,
2) operationalize quality assurance of cassava planting material production,
3) commercialize certified cassava planting material production,
4) determine the economics of cassava seed system, and
5) assess the rate and magnitude of degeneration of improved cassava varieties due to virus infection.

Interventions.  The project established a functional cassava seed system in Uganda, to enhance uptake and utilization of quality cassava planting materials and related innovations for sustainable productivity of cassava in the target project areas. A functional seed system in this case was defined as one with four key components working in tandem;

(i) research to generate pre-basic seed and methods of seed production,
(ii) regulation and certification of seeds for quality assurance,
(iii) production of seed as a direct consumable input to meet the demand,
(iv) commercialization of quality cassava planting material (cassava seed) production.  The project facilitated the establishment of an institutional arrangement to enable efficient and commercially viable distribution of quality cassava planting materials to farmers for production.

Certified/quality cassava planting materials were produced in a decentralized manner by Cassava Seed Entrepreneurs (CSEs) who accessed clean seed from the research institute (NaCRRI). Potential CSEs were identified and trained in technical and business management skills.

Other activities included multiplication of pre-basic and basic seeds through research – private sector collaboration; procurement and distribution of basic cassava seed to CSEs for establishment of cassava seed multiplication farms; marketing of the quality planting materials to farmers; and linkages with other institutions to facilitate technical follow up, quality control and certification.

Impact. A sustainable market-oriented cassava seed system driven by smallholder farmers was developed and has enabled timely access to affordable quality planting materials of improved cassava varieties. Smallholder farmers are now willing to pay for certified cassava planting materials as compared to receiving free planting materials. This implies sustainability of the seed system as certified seed production is market driven.

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