WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – (February 6, 2017) Context Global Development™ (CGD) and partners have launched a new program aimed at transforming the formal yam seed system in Nigeria and Ghana to enable smallholder farmers access to affordable, high quality seed yam tubers.
The program, second phase of Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA-II), is a five-year, $12 million program. It is intended to boost certified seed yam production by optimizing and commercializing breakthroughs realized in the first program phase. YIIFSWA-II is expected to improve the livelihoods of at least 1.6 million people who depend directly on the yam value chain. Those benefiting include seed and ware yam producers, processors, marketers, transporters, and consumers.
The program is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and will be led by the Nigeria-based International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in collaboration with CGD, Sahel Capital (Sahel), the governments of Ghana and Nigeria and some private seed companies in the countries .
CGD Principal, Mark Nelson said, “We are very pleased to be part of this important effort. Yam plays an important food security and income generation role in Nigeria and Ghana. Despite its importance, yam yields in both countries remain stubbornly low due, in large part, to the reliance on poor quality seed sourced from the informal seed system, and the lack of a high-quality alternative from the formal seed system.”
“The development of a formal yam seed system using new, improved varieties is critical to improving yields, but has lagged due to a lack of collaboration between the research community, producers and processors,” he added. “Consequently, farmers have been discouraged from investing in improved yam varieties.”
Together, IITA, Context, and Sahel will address the scarcity of, and investment in, high quality seed yam in Nigeria and Ghana, leveraging yam multiplication innovations that support the development of a demand-driven, formal yam seed system. Context and Sahel will provide advisory support and establish business models to strengthen the marketing and operational skills of the private seed companies engaged in using aeroponic systems for basic seed production. The project team will work closely with the private seed companies to implement business plans and organize trials to demonstrate the value of quality seed yam. Focusing on business model optimization, the organizations intend to improve Early Generation Seed (EGS) system economics, localize seed production, and enable the scale-up of private seed companies.
Nelson said, “CGD offers a broad spectrum of agricultural expertise to accelerate innovations that result in meaningful and lasting change. These efforts greatly advance the vision of an economically sustainable, commercial yam seed system in Nigeria and Ghana.”
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CGD is a non-profit organization that leads agricultural and social impact programs worldwide. CGD teams with development organizations and government agencies to maximize the value of agricultural resources in developing countries as they partner to accelerate innovations that result in meaningful and lasting change.