HarvestPlus targets 1.2m households with Vit-A cassava, maize
HarvestPlus says it is targeting 1.2 million households with vitamin A cassava and maize in Nigeria in 2018, with increased delivery activities in expansion states.
Its Country Manager, Dr Paul Ilona who disclosed this to news men in an interview on Monday in Ibadan, said that the expansion states would include those in the Northeast, Northwest and North central.
He added that HarvestPlus planned to deliver three million bundles of vitamin A cassava, 2,000 metric tonnes of vitamin A maize and bring over 50,000ha of land under cultivation to bio-fortified seeds.
“This delivery target is in addition to the awareness and demand creation, platforms, partnerships, policies and linkages that HarvestPlus Nigeria needs to push to support investors and actors in the bio-fortification value chain,” he said.
While emphasizing that agriculture could undoubtedly be a sustainable source of income generation, especially for Nigeria with her teeming population and favourable climatic conditions, Ilona expressed dissatisfaction that farmers as well as many investors in the sector were still unable to grow their production and investment scales.
In order to curb the problem of access to finance, he said, HarvestPlus Nigeria had channelled efforts to help investors and farmers cultivating and processing bio-fortified maize and cassava varieties to access the finance they need to grow their trade.
“Specifically, the plan is to link them to the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing system for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL). NIRSAL is a CBN endorsed initiative that basically guarantees loans, guides and provides certified inputs for viable agricultural related businesses. The NIRSAL management is already very happy to work with us, so work is now underway to develop a formal agreement to kick start the partnership,” he said.
The Country Manager also disclosed that the Chairman, House of Representative Committee on Agricultural Production and Services, Hon. Mohammed Monguno had pledged to support the development and passage of bills that would create enabling environment, especially for maize producers in Nigeria.
While urging government and policy makers to create the enabling environment to support investments and address nutrition in the country, Ilona also called on the media to help reinforce the message that “the foods people eat play key role in the development of the country.”