Scientists from the Crops Research Institute (CSIR-CRI), Ghana, visited the newly established Aeroponics Facility at the National Root Crop Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike last December to view some of the progress being made by their Nigerian counterparts on pre-basic and basic seed production.
The scientists, Emmanuel Otoo, Deputy Director, CRI; Braima Haruna, YIIFSWA Country Manager, Ghana; Marian Ouain, Head of Biotechnology Lab; and Joseph Ayamdo, YIIFSWA Seed Officer in Ghana, were accompanied by John Ikeorgu, YIIFSWA country manager, Nigeria.
At Umudike, the team met with NRCRI’s Yam Program Coordinator Eke Okoro and his staff who are involved in YIIFSWA healthy seed yam multiplication activities. The Ghanaian team first visited the 1-hectare pre-basic seed multiplication field and was later taken to the aeroponics screenhouse. According to Ikeorgu, “They were amazed at the level of success achieved in mini tuber and vine production from aeroponics, less than 3 months after the commissioning of the facility.” The team at NRCRI has successfully generated and harvested mini tubers from the aeroponics system and is generating vines to populate unplanted boxes within the system.
Over the years, the quality of pre-basic and basic seeds within the yam production systems in Ghana and Nigeria was a concern that needed intervention. National agricultural research and extension systems (NARES) were at risk of losing pre-basic and basic seed stocks of improved varieties because they were heavily infested with pathogens. As part of its interventions, the Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA), generated disease-free seed stocks of popular local and improved varieties and has developed novel technologies for rapid multiplication of these seed tubers. These achievements will aid with bulking of healthy seed stocks for distribution along the seed value chain.
Both NARES (NRCRI and CRI) have been tasked with multiplying and distributing high quality clean pre-basic seed tubers within the yam production system.