BMGF, IITA, others inaugurate new Yam Seed Development Project

Towards increasing the productivity of Yam cultivation by 30 per cent, for at least 320,000 smallholder farmers, the Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA) has launched a $12million yam seed system development project in Nigeria and Ghana, to mark the commencement of its second phase (YIIFSWA-II).

It is a commercial seed systems development project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which will focus on developing and scaling out sustainable seed yam businesses that will provide high quality seed yam and improved varieties to enhance productivity and food security.

The goal of the five-year project is to scale out breakthroughs of YIIFSWA-1 such as aeroponics system for basic seed yam production, to boost the production of certified seed yam and improve smallholder farmers’ access to high quality seed yam for improved productivity, income and food security.

Nigeria and Ghana’s formal yam seed markets are underdeveloped due to a combination of factors, including inefficient seed production, distribution network and quality assurance systems, as well as bottlenecks caused by a lack of good seed policy on key issues such as access to credit for inputs.

In Nigeria alone, three million hectares of land are dedicated to yam production annually, which will require the production of about three trillion seed tubers annually.

The revolutionary YIIFSWA-II project is an ambitious private sector-led seed systems development effort that aims to improve the livelihoods of at least 1.6 million people, who depend directly on the yam value chain. The initial focus is on supplying of 161,000 households in both countries with improved, high quality yam seed.

The project will be led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in collaboration with Context Global Network/Sahel Capital and the governments of Ghana and Nigeria, targeting the private seed sector.

The aim is to provide smallholder farmers with high quality seed tubers of improved varieties that have been released, for example, TDr 89/2665, which farmers have dubbed as ‘the Wonder Yam” in Nigeria due to high yielding qualities and resistance to diseases.

At the launch in IITA, Ibadan, YIIFSWA Project Leader, Dr. Norbert Maroya said the key goal of the project is to promote and boost the production of high quality seed tubers of improved varieties by outscaling key breakthroughs from YIIFSWA-I.

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