Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Federal Government said the country spends $650 million on cassava byproducts importation annually.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, disclosed this, on Thursday, at the 2018 Seeds Fair and Farmer’s Field Day, in Abuja.
According to him: “I want to tell farmers that we are very happy for heeding to Mr president by returning to the farms. And many of you are becoming richer.
“Why so much emphasis on cassava? It is not because we cassava but because right now we are spending $650 million a year importing cassava by- products in the name of syrups, sweeteners, starch and ethanol. And yet we are the biggest cassava producers in the world just as we are the biggest producers of yam.
“What we need is industrial machinery to convert these products to industrial products,” he added.
Speaking earlier, the Director General, National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Dr. Olusegun Ojo, explained that the event was put together to create awareness on the importance for farmers to patronise certified seed sellers in order to harvest bountifully.
He added that the council’s collaboration with meaningful agencies has yielded fruits.
His words, “To put it on record that NASC collaborations with stakeholders has started yielding positive results such as the NASC Molecular Facility funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation under the BASICS Programme on the development of the Cassava Seed System.
“Furthermore, our collaboration with schools and colleges have led to the establishment of demonstration plots in about five schools within the FCT.
“These young seed experts have established demonstration plots of improved maize varieties in their schools where young students are being introduced to the rudiments of seed science with the intention to teach them now the benefits of using improved seeds and encourage them to adopt agriculture as a profession.”
The minister further revealed that “We are engaging more support of the states to step up our regulatory activities with the enhancement of our public enlightenment and sensitization programmes in seed market in major cities across the Country.
“This we have done in Kano, Jigawa and Kebbi to rid the market of fake and adulterated seeds,” he added.
He used the occasion to present awards to two schools who had good demonstration plots of land.
“As a means of encouraging the young seed experts, we will be giving awards to two schools with best demonstration plots.”