…x-rays huge potential in potato value chain

By Gabriel Ewepu

ABUJA- WITH resolve to make agribusiness a sustainable venture in the Nigerian economy, the Potato Farmers Association of Nigeria, POFAN, has trained 120 beneficiaries on organic soap and bread making with Orange-Flesh Potatoes.

The two-day training was organised to impart knowledge on the potato value chain.

Speaking during the unveiling of POFAN’s new head office in Abuja, the National President, POFAN, Chief Daniel Okafor, said it became imperative for the association to impart knowledge and skills in converting Orange-Flesh Potato by organising a two-day workshop on ‘Wealth Creation Benefits of Orange-Fleshed Sweetpotato Value Chain Development’.

Okafor said the training is ongoing and it is in batches of 60 persons, and added that the association is determined to reduce unemployment among women and youth, especially now that more Nigerians are needed in food production to mitigate any food crisis.

According to him, the training was focused on Orange-Fleshed Sweetpotato doughnuts, breads, organic soap, egg rolls, and others.

He said: “Today’s ceremony, however, has a very special meaning. It is a day that has given me another opportunity to mention but a few what this organization has been able to achieve so far.

 “This Association has done what no commodity association has done in the area of promoting agriculture with special emphasis on potato both sweet and Irish. 

“We received Orange-Fleshed Sweetpotato in 2011 and have multiplied it and distributed same to many of our farmers across the country.

“We embarked on training in February across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria and have concluded it with the last training in Kaduna early this month. 

“The geopolitical zonal training were done in the following states: Anambra for South East, and Enugu in addition by request, Cross River for South- South, Ogun for South West, Plateau for North Central, Kaduna for North West and Gombe for North East. 

“Today we are not only opening an office, we are also flagging another round of training on Sweetpotato value chain development. 

“This training is all about developing products that have wealth and health benefits from potato especially Orange-Fleshed 4 Sweetpotato. 

“We want to create self reliance among our farmers along the value chain. With the daily increase in the country’s unemployment population, training people on a business that will create job for them and make them self reliant is the way to go.”

He also disclosed that the association has a 10 year rolling plan on sweetpotato development of which the training is part of its implementation.

However, he expressed concern over the dangers chemicals pose on cultivation of potato, which a manual is being put together for farmers to adopt Good Agricultural Practices, GAP.

“As I am talking to you now, work on our third book on ‘The dangers of pesticides residues in our food’ is ongoing and will soon be launched. 

“The aim of this book is to educate our farmers and other stakeholders in agricultural space on what danger these agro chemicals pose to the lives of our people.

“To preempt this, we have developed a training topic on organic farming which we have started training our members on”, he said.

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