[x_pullquote type=”left”]The project seeks to develop and establish a functional, commercial seed yam seed system in Nigeria and Ghana to benefit smallholder farmers through timely and affordable access to high quality seed yam tubers of improved varieties. YIIFSWA-II is based on a three-pronged approach: (i) demonstrate the profitable business opportunity in using the Aeroponics System (AS) for basic seed yam production and (ii) provide technical and business advisory services for private seed companies to engage in production of high quality basic seed yam using AS; and (iii) increase the supply of certified seed yam tubers from vibrant and profitable seed entrepreneurs (SE) at an affordable price to ware yam producers.[/x_pullquote] The success of the SEs is linked to a dependable and affordable supply of quality basic seed from private seed companies. Throughout-scaling high quality seed production technologies developed in YIIFSWA-I, seed companies-in partnership with national regulatory agencies-will deliver basic and certified seed yam tubers to seed entrepreneurs resulting in localized, scalable deployment centers. In tandem with production enabling capacity, private seed company led marketing will be supported to promote the adoption of improved varieties by smallholder farmers.

Based on the proven benefits of clean, quality seed yam to increase production by at least 30%, IITA and the partners, seek to establish a robust seed yam system in both Nigeria and Ghana that uses a market-based, integrated approach to deliver clean, quality seed yam of improved varieties to at least 320,000 smallholder farmers for long-term benefits. An estimated 7,700 SE’s will supply approximately 247,000 hectares of ware production in 6 states of Nigeria and 2 regions of Ghana by the end of the project. The beneficiaries of this project will be smallholder farmers that have a serious need for a sustainable source of clean, high quality seed yam of improved varieties – to improve their yields and incomes. In reaching those beneficiaries, other groups such as the SEs will also benefit through sales of the high quality seed yam and seed business development skills for long-term livelihood improvements. Likewise, capacities will be strengthened of the national yam research institutes- National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) in Nigeria and Crops Research Institute (CRI) as well as the private basic seed companies to profitably propagate enough quantities of high quality pre-basic and basic seed in a shortest time possible.

The project will achieve its vision of building demand-creation, production systems and an enabling environment for improved varieties of seed yam through four objectives: (i) empower smallholder ware yam producers with the seed of improved varieties for increased productivity resulting in increased income, (ii) develop a functional, and sustainable seed system that delivers sufficient quantities of high quality seed of improved varieties to farmers at the right time and at prices that encourage adoption, (iii) raise the awareness of the economic impact of the yam sector for increased investment and prioritization from national, regional and international programs as well as private sector; and (iv) empower women to profitably participate in the commercial yam seed value chain within the context of the appropriate socio-cultural system.

The seed production enabling aspects of this project will be based on the implementation and out-scaling of key breakthroughs of YIIFSWA-I. These include: (i) use and promotion of novel high ratio propagation technologies such as Temporary Immersion Bioreactor System (TIBS) for pre-basic seed yam production by the National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs) and the AS for basic seed yam production by the private seed companies, (ii) the implementation of quality standards approved by the regulatory bodies of the two countries using the seed yam quality management protocol (YQMP) for sustaining seed quality, health and certification of pre-basic, basic and certified seed yam; and (iii) implementation of improved seed health management methods incorporating virus elimination techniques and virus indexing especially for pre-basic seed yam production.

To realize the vision of an economically sustainable, commercial yam seed system in Nigeria and Ghana, Context Global Development and Sahel Capital, will provide advisory support and establishment
of appropriate business models to strengthen the marketing and operations skills of the private seed companies engaged in using AS for basic seed production. The project team will coach and
work closely with the private seed companies on implementing the business plans and organize trials to demonstrate value of quality seed yam of improved varieties, with a specific focus on engaging women entrepreneurs.

Seed yam producers at the community/village level will be empowered with business skills to produce Quality Declared Seed (QDS) of improved yam varieties for access by many farmers. The virus-free stocks of at least 3 high-yielding improved and released varieties will be provided and the training-of-trainers on good agronomic packages to the basic seed yam producing companies will be promoted for improving the performance of certified seed yam producers and ultimately ware yam farmers.

To ensure sustainability and scalability of this work, the project will undertake active advocacy as well as engage policymakers and other stakeholders for favorable policy for public and private investments. More emphasis will be given to Nigeria, where yam is prioritized as a key commodity in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development‘s 20162020 Agricultural Promotion
Policy (APP) a Policy and Strategy document of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development..

Our vision of success for this project is a 30% increase in the productivity of yam cultivation for at least 320,000 smallholder yam farmers in six states (Enugu, Benue, Nasarawa, Federal Capital Territory, Niger and Oyo) of Nigeria and two regions (Brong Ahafo and Northern) of Ghana. The ultimate goal is to ensure that all the advances made in establishing the system in YIIFSWA-I are fully transferred to and operationalized by NARIs and private seed companies, while enhanced on-farm good agronomic packages are accessed and utilized by seed and ware yam farmers for increased productivity and income generation. The expected impact from implementation of YIIFSWA-II over the next five years will be improved livelihoods of at least 1.6 million people who depend directly on the yam value chain (including seed and ware yam producers and their family members, processors, marketers, transporters, consumers etc.).

Major significant results are as summarized below:

  • Private basic seed companies have invested in establishment of AS technology for production and supply of basic seed of improved varieties at affordable price and accessible to the certified SEs
  • Improved varieties pre-basic seed production will be done by the NARIs using the TIBS
  • Capacities of the seed inspectors and regulators are strengthened in quality assurance and functional seed yam certification system ;
  • Strengthened capacities of SEs to undertake seed yam production as a business (producing, distributing quality seed of improved varieties, and selling them profitably);
  • Increased institutionalization and investments in yam by the governments and development partners; and
  • Enhanced decision-making roles of women in the seed yam supply and delivery systems