New Improved Cassava Varieties Released in Nigeria

Today, 7th December 2011, the National Committee on Naming, Registration & Release of Crop Varieties, Livestock/Fisheries of Nigeria officially released 5 improved varieties of cassava.

They are UMUCASS 36, UMUCASS 37, UMUCASS 38, UMUCASS 39, and UMUCASS 40. This is a culmination of joint research efforts in varietal pre-release trials that have lasted about 4 years, led by Nigeria's National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), working with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) - with funding from HarvestPlus, Nigerian Government agencies and other partners.

Three of the 5 (UMUCASS 36, 37 and 38) are high pro-vitamin A ‘yellow’ cassava varieties bred by IITA and NRCRI with support from HarvestPlus, and could provide more vitamin A in the diets of more than 70 million Nigerians who eat cassava every day. The yellow colour (cassava is generally white) is due to the higher vitamin A content. These new yellow varieties were bred using traditional (non-transgenic) methods and were liked by farmers during field trials.

This marks a new dawn in Nigeria's cassava industry - it is the first release of micronutrient-enhanced cassava developed in Nigeria. The other 2 varieties are well suited for gari/fufu, high quality cassava flour and starch chains.

Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is widely prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. It afflicts almost 20% of pregnant women and about 30% of children under-five in Nigeria. VAD can lower immunity and impair vision, which can lead to blindness and even death.

Children and women will be the main beneficiaries of these new yellow varieties, which could provide up to 25% of their daily vitamin A needs. Varieties with enough vitamin A to provide up to half of daily needs are already in the breeding pipeline and should be ready for release in a few years.

The yellow cassava is already being multiplied through stem cuttings. In 2013, when sufficient certified stems are available, they will be distributed to an initial 25,000 farming households. Farmers will be able to grow the new vitamin A varieties both for their families and to share cuttings with others, amplifying the nutritional benefits. After the mid-2014 harvest, more than 150,000 household members are expected to be eating vitamin A cassava.

Cassava is an extremely adaptable crop – it is drought tolerant, requires limited land preparation, and grows well in poor soils. The new varieties are also high yielding and resistant to major diseases and pests. For more information on cassava, click on Cassava Facts & Figures.

At the release meeting, the Committee highly commended the Cassava Team for their innovativeness.The varieties are described in the table below:

UMUCASS 36 (TMS 01/1368)

UMUCASS  37 (TMS 01/1412)

UMUCASS 38 (TMS 01/1371)

UMUCASS 39 (NR 03/0211)

UMUCASS 40 (NR 03/0155)

High beta carotene (pro-vitamin A)

High beta carotene (pro-vitamin A)

High beta carotene (pro-vitamin A)

Early maturing

Early maturing

Very suitable for gari and fufu

Very high yielding

Very suitable for gari and fufu

High yielding

High yielding

Very suitable for high quality cassava flour

Very suitable for gari and fufu

Very suitable for high quality cassava flour

suitable high quality cassava flour

Very suitable for gari and fufu

 

Broadly adapted to different environments

 

High starch yield

Tolerance to drough

This story is courtesy of :
Dr Chiedozie Egesi,
Assistant Director and Head, Cassava Breeding
National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI),
Umudike, Km 8 Ikot Ekpene Road,
PMB 7006, Umuahia 440001,
Nigeria.

 

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