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.
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.
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