This was made known at the 1st Cassava Virus and Clean Seed awareness training workshop organised by the West African Virus Epidemiology (WAVE) for root and tuber crops project, Covenant University, in Ota, Ogun State.

Themed, “Cassava Virus and Clean Seed Training Workshop, the Senior Associate Prof. of Virology, Department of Biological Sciences, Covenant University, Ota and the Team Leader at WAVE, Dr. Angela Eni, the convener of the workshop said, the aim was to discuss the need to learn from best practices for the use of virus free planting materials for improved tuber yield. She added that the WAVE team will also share its major findings in each of its mandate States.

Running in six West African Countries – Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Cote d’ Ivoire and Burkina Faso, the primary aim of the WAVE project is to work with cassava farmers and relevant stakeholders to develop a holistic strategy for improved cassava productivity.

Delivering the opening remarks while declaring the workshop open, the Vice Chancellor, Covenant University, Prof. A.A.A. Atayero who was duly represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Prof. Shalom Nwodo Chinedu, commended the WAVE team for their efforts, which he believed will improve the production output of a crop that Nigeria is well known for.

The National President, Nigeria Cassava Grower Association (NCGA), Mr. Segun Adewumi, while delivering his keynote address titled, “Towards the restoration of Dignity of the Black Race (Cassava for Food and Security)” said, cassava is a sure trigger for industrial revolution in Nigeria.

“Cassava is that wonderful crop that produces over twenty local food types which include Tapioka, Starch,Pupuru, Lafun, fufu, Gari, etc. These products are incidentally raw materials for numerous utility items with limitless market potentials. Cassava can actually trigger massive industrial revolution in Nigeria,” he said.

However, he lamented the Import Dependency Syndrome for which Nigeria is known in spite of her rich natural resources. Nigeria imports over 97% of our ethanol at the cost of over N700 billion annually. Industrial starch worth over 400 billion naira is also imported annually. This is not to talk about wheat flour which can be easily substituted with cassava flour in the production of bread. These have capacity to save the country of N2 trillion expended on these items in foreign exchange annually.

Worthy of note are the Team Leaders WAVE Nigeria 2, Dr. Joseph Onyeka, who delivered a presentation on “The Need for Virus-Free Cassava Planting Materials”, and Team Leader WAVE Nigeria 3, Dr. I.U. Mohammed, who also delivered a presentation on “Towards Ensuring Food Security in West Africa: Combating Cassava Virus Diseases.”

The Covenant University hub of the project has the mandate to undertake the project activities in the South Western and North Central States of Nigeria.