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03 November 2008

IITA, Nigeria - Cassava farmers in the semi-arid zones of sub-Saharan Africa are now enjoying 6-10 times better yields thanks to a new variety developed by IITA that is well-adapted to the dry or drought-prone conditions of the region. Dubbed TMS92/0067, the variety, with farmer management, produces an average of 30 to 50 tonnes of cassava per hectare as opposed to the 5 tonnes per hectare from local varieties commonly used by farmers in these areas.
"TMS92/0067 is highly productive," says Rachid Hanna, IITA entomologist based in Benin Republic. "Its performance in the dry areas is quite impressive and compares well with cassava yields obtained in the humid forest and moist savanna belts," he adds.

This new variety has been widely tested in farmers' fields in Burkina Faso and the Chad in West Africa and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Central Africa, where it has also demonstrated high resistance to several diseases like the Cassava Bacterial Blight (CBB) and Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD). The variety also has excellent hosting qualities to Typhlodromalus aripo, an effective biological control agent of the cassava green mite. Its hairy apex and ability to retain its apex and much of its foliage during the dry season or droughts promote the colonization and persistence of T. aripo.

TMS92/0067 was officially released by the Ministry of Agriculture to farmers in the DRC in May this year. The Benin government has also authorized its release under the name MR67 (MR stands for manioc resistant or resistant cassava). Beginning next year, IITA, with funding from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (www.ifad.org), will be distributing the variety to 3000 farmers there to help increase cassava production and diversify its utilization. IITA and its partners plan to distribute the variety to more farmers in other semi-arid countries in the region soon after.

"The distribution of this variety will make a great impact among farmers. And I must say that farmers love this variety because they can eat it fresh, or make great-tasting garri or akwese (a local cassava cake) from it," Hanna said. The variety also produces high-quality cassava flour.

IITA projects that TMS92/0067 will be quickly adopted by cassava farmers in the drought-prone belt of West Africa, which runs from northern Nigeria to southern Senegal and extending into northern Cameroon. "TMS92/0067 is a wonderful variety, and farmers have attested to this in many countries," said Alfred Dixon, IITA cassava breeder.

The combination of drought-tolerance, high productivity and pest/disease resistance of TMS92/0067 provides a cushion against food shortages and the negative effects of climate change in Africa. With the increasing demand for cassava as raw material in many agro-based industries in the continent, scientists believe that this new variety will ensure the steady supply of the crop in the dry areas where farmers have traditionally struggled to produce it in economically-significant quantities.


For more information, please contact:

Rachid Hanna, r.hanna@cgiar.org
IITA - Benin

Alfred Dixon, a.dixon@cgiar.org
Cassava Breeder

Jeffrey T. Oliver, o.jeffrey@cgiar.org
Corporate Communications Manager
Communication Office

IITA - Headquarters
Ibadan, Nigeria
URL: www.iita.org

Related resources:
Integrated Cassava Project
Cassava chain development in West Africa 
Cassava Enterprise Development Project (CEDP)
Natural Resistance to the Cassava Mosaic Disease 
Promotion of Cassava Commercialization for Sustainable Economic Growth, Food Security, and Poverty Reduction

About IITA
Africa has complex problems that plague agriculture and people's lives. We develop agricultural solutions with our partners to tackle hunger and poverty. Our award winning research for development (R4D) is based on focused, authoritative thinking anchored on the development needs of sub-Saharan Africa. We work with partners in Africa and beyond to reduce producer and consumer risks, enhance crop quality and productivity, and generate wealth from agriculture. IITA is an international non-profit R4D organization since 1967, governed by a Board of Trustees, and supported primarily by the CGIAR (www.cgiar.org).