By Omolola Pedro
In a bid to address food insecurity in the country, the Federal Government, in a collaboration with the Green Economy Alternative Nigeria (GEAN) and the Nasarawa State Government, has empowered no fewer than 100 farmers with sweet potato vines, in order to achieve sufficient production of sweet potato in Nasarawa State. The representatives of the three collaborators, who were at the inauguration for the distribution of vines for breeders, have high hopes that the production of sweet potatoes would make an impactful contribution to addressing issues of food insecurity and malnutrition in the country.
The Director-General, Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), Ibrahim Hussain disclosed that the orange-fleshed type of sweet potato has a lot of health benefits and contains vitamin A. He added that the agency was responsible for industrial raw materials growth, promotion and utilisation and serves as an advisory group to the government on what is required to add value to raw materials in the country. “We would work with the state government and others to provide processing equipment for value addition and processing of the potato into different finished products”, he said. Hussaini commended the President and Chief Executive Officer, Green Economy Alternative Nigeria, Douglas Akaba, for his efforts at actualising the commencement of the programme in Nasarawa State.
Reacting to the development, the Programme Manager, Nasarawa State Agricultural Development Programme (NADP), Emmanuel Alanana, said the state government had donated 50 hectares of land in Lafia for the breeding of vines for production of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. Alanana lauded the Federal Government and GEAN for the partnership reached, to make Nasarawa State one of the sweet potato-producing states in the country, noting that the state government, through NADP, would put machineries in place to support the beneficiaries with technical knowledge on how to plant the potato to achieve optimal benefit. According to him, the initiative would help address the problem of food insecurity and boost farmers’ income to make their lives worthwhile.
The President and Chief Executive Officer of GEAN, Douglas Akaba, noted that orange-fleshed sweet potato has nutritional values and health benefits to the people. He added that most advanced nations of the world have made it part of their policies for citizens to eat potatoes, at least, once or twice a day because of its benefits. He further said the orange-fleshed sweet potato can be cultivated three times a year and can be harvested after three months, adding that his organisation would continue to collaborate with farmers and governments until the production of orange-fleshed potatoes was practised by every farmer in the country.