The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) says it has renovated and equipped the diagnostic laboratory of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) at their headquarters in Sheda, Abuja.
According to IITA, the laboratory is fitted with equipment worth $100,000 for seed quality control and Seed Tracker e-certification system.
Continuing, it says a PCR for DNA amplification and other laboratory equipment will allow technicians of the seed regulatory agency to conduct diagnostics and seed quality testing in line with the amended existing standards for seed yam.
Strengthening and equipping the diagnostic laboratory of NASC in Nigeria and the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) in Ghana with new tools for seed yam quality inspection is one of the outputs of the establishing a fit-for-purpose quality assurance system for seed yam quality component of the Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA-II) project.
Head Germplasm Unit, and Virology and Molecular Diagnostics Unit at IITA, who leads the YIIFSWA-II “Seed Quality” component, Dr. Lava Kumar, says “the renovation of the laboratory and the installation of new equipment is one of the most important components for building a sustainable and viable formal seed yam system in Nigeria.
‘’This is one of our primary strategies for ensuring the availability and use of quality seed yam and planting materials in West Africa.”
On his part, Director-General of NASC, Dr Philips Ojo, says “through projects like YIIFSWA-II, IITA has initiated several activities to support the establishment of a quality assurance and seed certification system.’’
YIIFSWA-II is however, seeking 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.
One of these activities involved revising and amending the seed yam certification standards for the quality control of seed yam production.
In October 2018, IITA hosted and facilitated a workshop on Quality Management Protocol (QMP) .The meeting produced standards for quality control and parameters for inspection and certification. In August 2019, NASC hosted national stakeholder consultations to raise awareness on the new standards.
IITA also trained the technical staff of the regulatory agencies in yam diagnostics, seed testing standards, and field inspection methods for seed yam certification. Along with training, the regulatory agencies were also given the robust diagnostic tools developed in YIIFSWA for seed yam certification.
In February 2020, IITA, in conjunction with NASC, launched the Google.Org award wining Seed Tracker e-certification control room institutionalizing the digital system to facilitate real-time e-certification for yam.
Adding, Kumar says, ” the main objective of Seed Tracker TM is to support the regularisation of the seed sector in Ghana and Nigeria, thus ensuring a sustainable linkage between the value chain actors of the yam production system.
‘’This will consequentially result in increased production that will not only contribute to the improvement of farmers’ livelihoods but also promote the market potential of yam in the two countries.”