FG begins training of cassava farmers in North-West


The Federal Government on Thursday commenced capacity training of cassava farmers in the North-West, to bridge gaps in cassava production in the area.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the training, organised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, was to address yield gap in cassava production and expose farmers to new techniques.In a keynote address, in Birnin Kebbi, a director in the ministry, Mrs Karina Babangida said though Nigeria cassava yield was below 10 metric tons per hectare, it is still the leading cassava producer in the world.Babangida, who was represented by Mr Hakeem Raji, a Deputy Director, said Nigeria has the potential of producing more than 40 metric tons per hectare, if farmers adopt appropriate measures.

These, she said, include efficient technologies and improved agronomic practices and cropping systems.“One of the key priorities of the present administration under the Agricultural Promotion Policy, is to achieve a hunger free Nigeria through improved agricultural sector that ensures sustainable food supply that is easily accessible and affordable.“Giving the prime position of cassava commonly to providing food security and ensuring raw materials to many industries such as pharmaceuticals, ethanol among others, efforts should be intensified to improve productivity in order to attract more people and benefits into cassava production.“The steps to weed management and best practices tool developed by researchers at IITA has shown good result on helping farmers to increase productivity to about 20mt/ha.“Also, the cassava seed system, use of smart agriculture application, seed tracker and other digital tools developed by researchers at the international institute have good potentials to improve cassava productivity.”

She explained that the workshop was to expose farmers to the opportunities available to improve their production.“Indeed, we are all here today to deliberate on how to increase production, productivity on cassava and ensure self-sufficiency in food.“It is in my view that, sustained growth in the agriculture sector is hinged on strong collaboration between research institutions and flow of information on improved technologies, especially high yielding planting material and good agronomic practices.“Thus, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will continue to support relevant activities of cassava value chain to utilise and produce improved cassava planting materials vital for increasing agricultural production,” he noted

In a welcome address, representative of North-West Zonal Director of the ministry, Alhaji Shehu Abdullahi said the ministry was working towards achieving food and nutrition security through a combination of policies and appropriate agricultural technologies.He said: “One of the ways in which the ministry is working to achieve this objective is through the promotion of various crops such as cassava, in which Nigeria has comparative advantage in production.“

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The purpose of this meeting is to ensure that the yield gap in cassava is addressed through dissemination and adoption of improved technologies as well as innovation by small holder farmers.“This couple with encouraging youth and gender empowerment activities that will not only increase productivity and income, but also offer more economic opportunities to farmers in cassava value chain.”

The Kebbi Commissioner for Agriculture, Alhaji Abdullahi Maigari lauded the initiative, andstressed the workshop should also focus on cassava value chain.Maigari, who was represented by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr Joel Aiki, said that the training should open doors for linkages with producers and markets.The National President, Nigeria Cassava Growers Association, Pastor Segun Adewumi said the workshop should be extended to all parts of the country. (NAN)

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