From Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin Kebbi
The Federal Government has declared that the cassava farmers across Nigeria could produce 40 million tonnes of cassava per hectare with the new improved variety of the crop developed by these International Institutes of Technology Agriculture (IITA).
Director at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) Mrs Karina Babangida stated this during the workshop on capacity building of youth and women farmers in the North-West to address the yield gap in cassava held in Birnin Kebbi.
Babangida, who was represented by Mr Hakeem Raji, Deputy Director at the Ministry, explained that Nigeria despite all challenges, still leading the world in cassava production.
According to him, ‘it is worth mentioning that, Nigeria is the world’s leading producer of cassava despite its low yield of below 10mt/ha, compared to other countries such as Thailand.
‘However, the country had the potential of having good varieties that could give more than 40mt/ha. It is my firm belief that the challenges posed as low yield could be surmounted through activities such as this workshop.’
She explained that cassava, which is in the prime position commodity in providing food security, raw material for many industries such as pharmaceuticals, ethanol and others, could attract more people if efforts were made to improve productivity.
In his remark, the Kebbi State Commissioner for Agriculture, Alhaji Abdullahi Maigari Dakingari, represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr Joeil Aiki, disclosed that the state government had allocated out 25 tractors to cassava farmers in the state stressed that over 3,000 hectares of land are being cultivated for ethanol with 15,000 hectares arable land still reserved to be used for cassava.
He disclosed that the state was known for the rice revolution with 70 per cent production in Nigeria stressed that the state is now the food basket of the nation.
Earlier, the Zonal Director, North West, FMARD, Engineer S Ubandoma, represented by the Kebbi State Director of the Ministry, Engineer Shehu Abdullahi, said the ministry is working hard to promote various crops such as cassava which Nigeria has a comparative advantage in production.
‘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 smallholder farmers. This is coupled with encouraging youth and gender empowerment activities that will not only increase productivity and income but also offer more economic opportunities to farmers in the cassava value chain.
‘Accordingly, this will facilitate the creation of sustainable cassava planting materials production system, providing yield productivity technologies, ensuring good agronomic practice, empowerment of youth and women in production, access to information using IITA digital solutions, tools to create competitiveness and profitability of cassava enterprise for smallholder farmers in the end.’
In his remark, the National President of Nigerian Cassava Growers Association (NCGA) Pastor Segun Adewumi, represented by his Vice President, Alhaji Abubakar Chika Aliu, commended FMARD for organising the workshop stressed that members of the association would utilise the opportunity given to them.