Vice Chancellor of the Plateau State University (PLASU) Bokkos, Professor Bernard Malau Matur, has expressed the institution’s resolve to partner with the National Root Crops Research Institute Umudike in order to establish a pilot confine field trial centre for the production of biotech potato resistant species to blight.
Professor Matur made this known at the university while handing over a site for the project at the Faculty of Agriculture building in the university.
Speaking at the event, he expressed hope that farmers in Plateau State in general will benefit from the initiative through the use of research and technology which would increase their yield and reduce pre and post-harvest losses.
The Vice Chancellor promised to provide adequate security and water supply to the pilot project site in order to fast-track the success of the pilot project.
He thanked the Federal Government, the National Roots Crop Research Institute Umudike and Plateau State Government for giving approval for the take-off of the project, saying the project will serve as a gateway to ensuring national food security which is a focal area of President Bola Tinubu’s administration.
Speaking earlier, Dean Faculty of Agriculture PLASU, Dr Hosea Finangwai, said the decision by the faculty to enter into such a collaboration was borne out of the fact that enormous benefits would accrue in both teaching and research in addition to the facility being a training center for farmers in the state against potato prone diseases.
In his remarks, the Director National Root Crops Research Institute Umudike, Dr Charles Amadi, said the choice of Plateau State University Bokkos for the pilot project is deliberate because of the comparative advantage which Bokkos has as a potato production zone of Plateau State.
The director said the Institute will work relentlessly towards finding lasting solutions to the problem of blight, which has resulted in colossal losses to farmers.
Amadi further said that by the time the project succeeds, problems associated with the importation of potato chips and flour would have been addressed because of the chain solutions that would result from the centre.
He pointed out that this is the first multi-location study centre being undertaken by the Institute as the potatoes will be studied simultaneously at Mambilla and Bokkos and then released to the public.
The Chairman Nigerians in Diaspora Organization, Dr Ezekiel Macham, in his goodwill message expressed his willingness to partner with the project if given the opportunity, adding that the project is significant and that from all indications, Professor Matur is fully prepared to take Plateau State University to its desired development heights.