By Princewill Ekwujuru
HarvestPlus’s Global Director, Product Development and Commercialization, Wolfgang Pfeiffer has promised that the body will continue to work with partners to ensure that many more vulnerable people to hidden hunger are taken care of.
Harvestplus Nigeria is currently working with 20 partners in four states and 22 expansion states to address challenges along the vitamin ‘A’ cassava value chain.
Wolfgang Pfeiffer speaking during a working visit to Nigeria to inspect ongoing projects of Harvestplus Nigeria at Eruwa, Oyo state said their work is to ensure that they develop crops that are healthier and more nutritious, which also addresses micronutrient deficiencies in meals, and deliver them to areas where they are mostly needed.
“The world will be a better place if we all eat more nutritious foods and are able to function to full capacity. In addition, we want farmers and investors linked to our programme to make good profit from their investments.
This explains why we go the extra mile to build market linkages to promote their businesses as a way of reaching more vulnerable targets in rural and urban settings,” he added.
Corroborating, the director Country Manager, HarvestPlus Nigeria, Paul Ilona, said, “HarvestPlus Nigeria works closely with 20 partners in four target states of Oyo, Benue, Imo and Akwa-Ibom and 22 expansion states to address challenges along the Vitamin A cassava value chain.
“The model village concept is one that links all operators of the value chain – from producers of Vitamin A cassava to processors, to bulking agents, to marketers and to the final consumer. Every component of the chain is very important. That is why if there’s a disconnect at any point of the value chain, the entire program is likely to suffer.”
He further said that HarvestPlus is working towards a sustainable delivery program that will be driven by the private sector.
Small- and medium-scale enterprises are encouraged to invest in the value chain to ensure a wholesale coverage of the country and unhindered access to Vitamin A cassava products in the different regions of the country.
Coordinator of Senator Adeyemo Women Empowerment Scheme, SAWEC, Mrs Bola Adeyemo explained to Pfeiffer the choice of Okolo as one of her model villages under HarvestPlus’s Vitamin A cassava delivery program.
Taking the team through the history of the market women who used to display their gari under a dangerous powerline, Mrs. Adeyemo said her NGO stepped in to assist the rural women and their families by disseminating varieties of Vitamin A cassava stems to them, provided technical assistance to both household and commercial farmers during planting seasons and monitored their progress up unto the time of harvest when she returned to train them on how to add value to their harvested tubers and sell excess of their processed food products.
The monarch of Okolo Village in Eruwa area of Oyo State, Nigeria, Pa David Olasunkanmi, in a significant gesture to showcase the result of Vitamin A cassava stems HarvestPlus brought to the village a couple of years back through SAWEC, presented Vitamin A cassava tubers to Pfeiffer.
He said the varieties did very well on their soil, as seen by the yields when harvested. “Our farmers now make money from their investments. Women who sell yellow gari, yellow fufu and confections made from Vitamin A cassava make more money too, while there is great improvement in our health since we started consuming Vitamin A cassava products,” he added.