- Farmers get 10,000 biofortified cassava stems
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe, has disclosed the plan the federal government is implementing to ensure that food is available for every Nigerian all year round, especially during dry seasons.
He said that government has planned to dam some rivers and streams to encourage dry season farming and aquaculture as well as the establishment of cassava flour mills equipped with flash dryers to process high-quality odourlous cassava for domestic consumption and for export.
Ogbe, who was represented by the coordinating director of the Nigeria Agriculture Quarantine Service, Dr. Vincent Isegbe, said this at the flag off of the youth engagement and enterprise development along cassava value chain and distribution of vitamin A cassava stems to farmers in Otukpo Benue State on Friday.
Noting that there was need to explore opportunities in the cassava value chain, he said, “We are working with the Angelina Ogbole Memorial Foundation, which is collaborating with HarvestPlus International to ensure the incorporation of essential micronutrients such as vitamin A, zinc and iron in our staple food crops.”
He said that the call by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for people to go into farming is real and the ideal way to follow, as the slide in crude oil prices posed challenges in government’s drive to address poverty and unemployment.
“There is need for people to go into farming as a means of solving the growing problem of poverty and unemployment. Gone are the days where white collar jobs are readily available.
“One thing is certain, which is that we must deliberately position ourselves to participate actively in the Federal Government’s determination to make agriculture the mainstay of our economy. The Idoma people are known for their prowess in farming, a practice that has served as a veritable means of sustaining families over the years.”
He added: “The Buhari-led government under the change mantra is exploring all avenues to ensure that food is available for every Nigerian all year round at very cheap and affordable prices. It is my belief that the dream will become a reality if everyone gathered today can utilise the vitamin A cassava stems that would be distributed.
“With your support and participation, you can be assured that in no time, Idoma land and by extension, Benue State in general, will not only maintain and sustain its position as the food basket of the nation, but will also carve a niche for itself as the cassava hub of the nation. This can be done if we take agriculture as a business, by incorporating good land clearing, use of improved certified seeds and seedlings and other Agro inputs. I therefore encourage you to form corporative societies so as to cultivate more lands, secure agricultural loans and government patronage. As a corporative, you can speak and be heard.
“Furthermore, it is my pleasure to inform you that some streams and rivers will be dammed to encourage dry season farming and aquaculture. Cassava flour mills will be established using flash dryers to process cassava into high-quality odourless cassava flour that can be exported.
The Country Manager, HarvestPlus, Paul Ilona, said that the plan for the exercise was to reach 10,000 farmers, who would get bundles of stems for their farms, adding that the organisation was working with partners to see that vitamin A cassava reaches considerable households in the state.
He said: “If you want to build a nation, you must start with nutrition. Iodine, for example, is one of the primary drivers of intelligence quotient. Federal government directed that Iodine be added to salt so that it would get to everyone. In the same vain, we are committed to get people to get essential nutrients such as vitamin A, zinc and iron.
“Aside the stems, farmers would also get training on how to process cassava into 25 different products.”