Group launches planting of bio-fortified vitamin A cassava, maize

According to Ilona, many people go blind as a result of lack of essential nutrients such as vitamin A, zinc and iron needed for the body.

A walks through his field of maize in Chikonga village, close to the town of Chikuni in the south of Zambia February 21, 2015. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

Speaking at the event, which was held in Akure, Ondo State, the Country Manager of the organisation, Mr Paul Ilona, said that the aim was to ensure that Nigerians have access to nutritious foods through bio fortification.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Harvestplus is an international organisation, which provides global leadership in bio fortification evidence and technology.

“No fewer than 2,200 children under the age of five die every day in Nigeria due to lack of these nutrients, to curtail this we must improve our nutrition.

“We intend to make eating of staple crops become the channel of good nutrients for the body; we have vitamin A varieties released in Nigeria, very soon we will produce vitamin A plantain and banana,” he explained.

Ilona said that the organisation had chosen the Federal College of Education, Akure, to train students on Vitamin A varieties production to produce future managers of agriculture for the country.

“We will also extend the training to other colleges of agriculture in Nigeria,” the country manager said.

Gov. Olusegun Mimiko, represented by the State’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Segun Ayerin, said that the state government had through its agri–prenuer programme trained many youths to be self employed in agriculture.

He said that the government has also established a cocoa revolution project through which no fewer than 76 tonnes of cocoa is produced in a season.

He said his administration also established a semi abattoir in Akure, which will be inaugurated in a couple of weeks.

The Provost of the college, Dr Adeola Odedina said that the Harvestplus had through its activities helped the school to produce quality self employed graduates in the agriculture sector.

Odedina said that the organisation sponsored establishment and maintenance of 100 hectares of vitamin A cassava varieties for farmers and entrepreneurs in Ondo state.

“These provisions have exposed our students to value chain opportunities of production, processing, value addition, marketing and consumption,” he said.

The provost urged the Federal Government to spend more money to train and support students of agriculture, stressing that the youths are the future of agriculture in Nigeria.

Highlights of the event include the presentation of an award to Gov. Mimiko, field trip and launching of model cassava processing centre.

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