As part of measures to boost food production, tackle hunger and poverty, the HarvestPlus, a non-profit research organization, and Maize Association of Nigeria (MAN) have urged the federal government to provide enabling environment for modern agricultural production and techniques.
Country Manager of HarvestPlus, Mr. Yusuf Dollah, made the call in Abuja at a media briefing on Vitamin A Maize.
- Maize farmers acquire combined harvesters to enhance mechanisation
- How to empower women through agriculture
He said that cultivating nutritious crops would go a long way to tackle food insecurity, hence the organizations awareness campaign on Vitamin A Maize Harvest in Nigeria.
He said that there is the need to improve nutrition and public health of citizenry through the development of staple food crops rich in vitamins and minerals for the populace.
“Vitamin A maize seeds are high yielding, disease resistant and drought tolerant as the nutrient is important for healthy skin, strong immune system, good eyesight and prevention of diarrhea in children,” Dollah said.
He said that at the beginning of 2021 planting season, over 9,000 metric tonnes of vitamin A maize seeds were produced and distributed across the country by over 20 seed companies.
He also said that vitamin A maize, which matures within 80 days of planting to harvest, is currently being harvested from various agro regions across the country.
He said, “From the findings of the organisation at the field of harvest, there is going to be bumper harvest this year. With this bumper harvest, there should be market for the farmers to be able to their harvest; this will motivate the farmers to do more in the coming year.
“This will also translate to increase in seed purchase and the seed company will as well be motivated to increase volume of seeds to be multiplied. If the market fails the farmer, he will be demotivated to continue with these varieties.”
Also, President of Maize Association of Nigeria, Dr. Bello Abubakar, urged the government to create enabling environment and robust markets for Vitamin A maize to thrive in the country.
Abubakar said maize farmers needed to be encouraged and incentivized, adding that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should intensify efforts to link maize farmers to processing industries for Vitamin A maize.
The Maize Value Chain Co-ordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Adeleke Mufutau, said maize is no longer in short supply in Nigeria.
He said that before the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, Nigeria was producing about 15.5m metric tonnes of maize and that the demand was about 18.5m metric tonnes.
On his part, the Head of Nutrition and Food Safety, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Rasaq Oyeleke, said the Ministry has the mandate of crafting policies in promoting agriculture in Nigeria.
He said with the collaboration of the Ministry and other development organizations like HarvestPlus last year, the country recorded a bumper harvest of not just ordinary maize but maize fortified with Vitamin A.