As stakeholders move to galvanize value
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
As agribusiness continues to receive a boost as the nation’s new economic lifeline, the Federal Government, yesterday, assured full realisation of potential in the potato value chain.
This assurance was made by the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Hajia Karima Babangida, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development at ‘The Potato Value Chain Stakeholders Meeting on Adoption and Utilization Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato OFSP,’ held in Oshogbo, Osun State.
According to Babangida government also seeks a collective way to map out a road map for the Potato Value Chain in the South-West region and the country at large.
She further stated that the Ministry is firmly committed to supporting the Agricultural drive of the Buhari-led administration in the bid to achieve diversification of the economy and massively create jobs for the teeming youths.
She said, “It is imperative to reiterate the stern resolve of the Federal Government to ensuring that the country does not experience any food shortage crises this year and beyond arising from the fall-out of COVID 19 pandemic on the nation’s economic activities, and agricultural inclusive in 2020. Especially, among the smallholders farmers, processors, and other Value Chain Actors.
“It has come to the knowledge of the Ministry the immense Wealth and Health benefits in Potato production, especially Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) and as such the Ministry is willing to explore these opportunities within the Value Chain in furtherance to achieving food nutrition and security for our beloved country.
“The primary objective of convening this stakeholder workshop is to create a forum for the stakeholders/major actors in the Potato Value Chain to chart a way forward for the realization of the fullest potentials locked up in Potato Production, Processing/utilization and Marketing.
“Several challenges have been identified in the Potato Value Chain; right from the seed system protocols to the marketing of the produce. The challenges are quite enormous, but however, not one that is insurmountable.
“Therefore, all hands must be on deck to achieving this feat. There is no formal seed system for Potato, and it’s been a major drawback in the development of the Value Chain in the country.
“In achieving the above, please be informed that the Ministry is willing to contribute to the development of the Potato Value Chain through its various Agencies and Research institutes with mandates on rendering technical support. The Ministry has quite a number of support services that farmers and processors can benefit from. Farm inputs such as; agro-chemicals, farm equipment, and machinery) are available at subsidized rates at the Ministry.
“It’s my expectation that at the end of this meeting, solutions to problems identified would have been found and a sustainable road map for the Potato Value Chain developed.”
However, she (Babangida) called on research institutes, agencies, and development partners with mandates on the Potato to work assiduously in creating solutions to the numerous challenges besetting the value chain, as well as new technologies and innovations to further improve production.
She also disclosed that the Ministry had earlier convened two regional meetings on Sweet potato in the South-South, Calabar, Cross River State and North-East, Yola, Adamawa State.
She expressed optimism that, “Once the South-West meeting is done, I assure you that this sensitization meeting would be held in the remaining three geopolitical zones of the country, that is the (North-West, North-Central, and South-East) regions respectively before convening a National Stakeholders workshop in a no distant future.
However, she charged the Agricultural Development Programme ADPs and the various Potato Commodity Association/Farmers “to embrace new innovations such as; the Farmers Business School (FBS); Cooperative Business School (CBS); and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) to improve their all-round farming activities as a means to strengthen their capacity in production and marketing.”
Meanwhile, in an address of welcome, State Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Engr Atoyebi Sunday, explained the essence of the meeting, which is to profer solutions to tackle challenges the industry is facing.
Sunday said, “The purpose of this meeting is to provide solutions to many challenges facing the popularization and adoption of the OFSP among the Nigerian farmers and processors nationwide. With this, I believe the resolutions of this meeting will help the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to plan adequately for ways of supporting potato farmers and processors nationwide.
“In view of the above, it is expedient for all of us to make use of this opportunity to cross-fertilize ideas and offer suggestions that will help in changing the narratives of low adoption and utilization of OFSP in Nigeria and also based on the information and knowledge gathered from the workshops; become an advocate of OFSP in our various communities and states.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I hope that by the end of this forum, the decisions to organise this stakeholder would have been achieved and everyone will be equipped with information on health and wealth benefits of OFSP to increase adoption.”
He also spoke on the importance of OFSP in the diet of children, mothers, and elderly, “Aside from the wealth potentials of processing OFSP into various confectioneries such as Chin-chin, juice, biscuits, cake, flour, bread among others, its health benefits cannot be over emphasized as it is known to have enough nutritional values to supply the vitamin A requirement for children between the ages of six months to five years, support pregnant and lactating mothers and also help boost the immune system of the elderly.”