Three newly improved vitamin A cassava varieties with yellow roots have been released by the Nigerian government, stepping up efforts to tackle the problem of vitamin A deficiency especially among women and children in the country. These new varieties were developed jointly by IITA and the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike.
The three varieties—UMUCASS 44, UMUCASS 45, and UMUCASS 46—are the second in the series of pro-vitamin A varieties released in the country, and are commonly known as NR07/0220, IITA-TMS-IBA070593, and IITA-TMS-IBA070539.
Researchers have begun the dissemination of pro-vitamin A cassava varieties to rural households as part of efforts to tackle vitamin A deficiency in Nigeria.
Popularly known as yellow cassava, these new improved varieties hold part of the solution to Vitamin A deficiency in Africa. It is no longer news that vitamin A deficiency is widespread in Nigeria, afflicting about 20% of pregnant women and 30% of children below the age of 5. A deficiency in vitamin A leads to poor health, blindness, stunting, and even death.
Global leaders and experts need to integrate biofortification and other available options to fight the menace of vitamin and mineral deficiencies that is afflicting the poor, says the Director-General of HarvestPlus, Dr. Howarth Bouis.
The consumption of pro-vitamin A cassava could help Nigeria reduce economic losses in Gross Domestic Product that is estimated at about $1.5billion, says the Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga.
“But more than economic savings, it will also improve the nutrition of women and children who are the most vulnerable,” says Sanginga at the public presentation of pro-vitamin A varieties by the Nigerian government in Umudike on Friday.
A research team led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has developed three new varieties of vitamin A cassava that could improve the livelihoods of millions of farmers in Africa and help put an end to malnutrition due to vitamin A deficiency in the continent. The vitamin A cassava varieties named by the National Variety release Committee of Nigeria as UMUCASS 36, UMUCASS 37, and UMUCASS 38 are recognized as IITA genotypes TMS 01/1368, TMS 01/1412, and TMS 01/1371.