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Building an Economically Sustainable Seed System for Cassava in Tanzania (BEST Cassava)

2017 - 2021

MEDA, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the Tanzanian Agriculture Research Institute (TARI), and the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) are collaborating to establish a commercial cassava seed system in Tanzania for smallholder farmers to have timely access to quality-assured, disease-resistant and higher yielding cassava seed varieties in the right quantities at an affordable price.


BEST Cassava

BEST Cassava stands for Building an Economically Sustainable Seed System for Cassava in Tanzania. The BEST Cassava project is being implemented in 11 regions across three zones (Lake, Eastern and Southern Zone) to benefit smallholder farmers and their households.


The overall goal of the BEST Cassava project is to increase agricultural productivity and incomes of smallholder cassava farmers through access to improved cassava seed. The adoption of superior cassava seed varieties by cassava farmers will support the production of high-yielding cassava despite the continued presence of diseases.


The project will support the creation of over 430 Cassava Seed Entrepreneur businesses who will sell quality-assured, disease-resistant and higher yielding cassava seed varieties to over 29,000 smallholder farmers over the life of the project.


Cassava is a vital crop for millions of smallholder farmers in Tanzania. Cassava has been transitioning from a staple crop to a commercial crop generating economically sustainable livelihoods for farmers and is therefore increasingly crucial for agricultural sector transformation. The Lake, Southern and Eastern Zones are major cassava growing regions in Tanzania whose farmers historically experience low yielding varieties, viral disease outbreaks and the use of poor agricultural practices.


With climate variability, cassava has proven to be among the most resilient crops, lowering the risks for farmers associated with higher rain dependent crops. However, pests and diseases cause production loss of up to 80% in Tanzania. Specifically, Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) and Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) spread across cassava fields by whiteflies as well as by farmers sharing diseased cassava seeds unknowingly with each other. These challenges create opportunities to build a commercial supply of improved, higher yielding varieties that are certified as virus free so farmers can invest in more profitable and reliable cassava farms.

Group of People


The BEST Cassava project addresses the lack of sustainable clean seed availability by establishing an affordable and accessible commercialized cassava seed system for producing quality-assured planting material of improved, disease-resistant varieties while boosting incomes of smallholder farmers. This will be achieved through the following interventions:

  • Increase use of (cost-effective) superior, disease-resistant cassava varieties preferred by smallholder farmers and other commercial seed supply chain stakeholders
  • Strengthen enabling government institutions collaborating with the private sector to provide an environment for scaling seed delivery from research through to farmers and to establish guidelines for quality certification • Increased capacity of the private sector to develop a vibrant, commercialized cassava seed supply chain


Project undertaken with the financial support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.