By Ibrahim Mamanga
Harvestplus Nigeria, an NGO, on Wednesday said it had reached more than 1.2 million farmers in 23 states in its bid to enhance Vitamin A cassava production.
Dr Paul Ilona, the Country Manager of the organisation, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan.
Harvetplus was established to fight hidden hunger manifested by micronutrient deficiencies in food through development of bio fortified staple crops.
Ilona said farmers from Benue, Abia, Ondo, Cross River, Imo, Oyo and 18 other states had benefited in the programme.
He said Harvestplus had in the past few years reached out to commercial farmers on how to make profit through agriculture, especially in vitamin A cassava production.
“We started by distributing free vitamin A cassava stem packs to them and the beneficiaries have started seeing the benefits.
“Farmers who received the packs also gave same to others, thereby making us to reach many more; we have made impacts in the lives of the rural people.
“Our target is to ensure that every farmer, who deserves to plant more nutritious varieties such as vitamin A cassava have access to it.
“We are also linking them to sources of inputs and creating value for their products. There is already a market for the crop.
“In Benue, Imo, Oyo, Ondo, many women were engaged in producing cassava based confectionery called combobits, which has different nutrients.
“The confectionery is yielding a lot of money; the vitamin A Garri is also on high demand now.
Ilona urged the government and private sectors to support farmers to produce more nutritious food.
He also urged stakeholders to brainstorm on how to invest in agriculture, which has the potentials to save the nation from the menace of poverty.’’
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that previous federal administrations initiated different programmes aimed at boosting the quality and quantity of cassava produced in the country.
NAN recalls that some of the policies included the directive on cassava flour usage by local bakeries in a bid to boost local production.