The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is partnering with bakers on how to include 40 per cent Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato, OFSP, puree for bread making.
Dr Karima Babanagida, the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, disclosed this at a One Day Stakeholders’ Workshop on Adoption of Sweet potato in Birnin Kebbi on Monday.
The workshop tagged: “Sweetpotato Value Chain”, attracted participants from across the state.
The director, who was represented by the Regional Director North-West, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ubandoma Ularamu, urged Agricultural Development Programmes, AFPs, of different states, various commodity associations and farmers groups to embrace the new innovation.
Babangida said: “The Ministry is planning to partner with master bakers and other bakers’ associations to engage them on how to include 40 per cent OFSP puree for bread making.
“This we hope would increase adoption, utilisation and consumption of OFSP across the country.
“It’s my expectation that at the end of this meeting, solutions to the problems identified would have been found and a road map for the potato value chain.”
She explained that the ministry was firmly committed to supporting the agricultural drive of the Federal Government, adding that government was doing everything possible to avert food shortage across the country due to COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is imperative to reiterate the stern resolve of the Federal Government to ensuring that the country does not experience any food shortage crises in the coming year arising from the fall-out of COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s economic activities, and agricultural inclusive especially among the smallholders farmers, processors and other Value Chain Actors.
“It has come to the knowledge of the ministry the immense wealth and health benefits in potato production, especially Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) and as such the ministry is willing to explore these opportunities within the Value Chain in furtherance to achieving food security and nutrition for our beloved country.
“The primary objective of convening this stakeholder workshop is to create a forum for the stakeholders/major actors in the Potato Value Chain to chart a way forward for the realisation of the fullest potentials locked up in Potato production, processing/utilisation and marketing.
“Several challenges have been identified in the Potato Value Chain; right from the seed system protocols to the marketing of the produce. The challenges are quite enormous, but however, not one that is unsurmountable.
“Therefore, all hands must be on deck to achieving this feat. There is no formal seed system for Potato, and it’s been a major drawback in the development of the value chain in the country,” Babangida said.
According to her, in achieving the above, the ministry is willing to contribute to the development of the Potato Value Chain through its various agencies and research institutes with mandates in rendering technical services.
She added that the ministry also had quite a number of support services for farmers and processors to benefit from, including farm inputs such as agro-chemicals, farm equipment and machinery available at subsidised rates in the ministry.
The director urged the various research institutes, agencies and development partners with mandate on the potato value chain to work assiduously to create solutions to the numerous challenges besetting the value chain.
She encouraged them to come up with new technologies and innovations to further improve the production of sweet potato in Nigeria.
The Kebbi State Commissioner for Agriculture, Alhaji Maigari Abdullahi-Dakingari, described the adoption of the crop as a welcome development and assured that the state government had already mobilised its farmers towards achieving the set goals and objectives of the programme.
He noted that over 8,000 farmers had been mobilised across the state, adding that the state is abundantly endowed with mineral resources and food of different varieties.
The commissioner encouraged the farmers to work closely with government to be able to benefit from the benefits thereon.
Alhaji Abdullahi Shehu, the State Director, FMARD, said the meeting centred on addressing the problems and challenges on production, processing, adoption and utilisation of Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato in Nigeria.
He said it was a variety of potato that fortified with beta carotene which is a precursors of Vitamin A, adding that it also enhance the wealth potentials of processing OFSP into various confectioneries such as Chin-chin, juice, biscuits, cake, flour and bread, among others.
Shehu added that its health benefits were numerous, as it was known to have enough nutritional values to supply the vitamin A requirement for children between the ages of six months to five years, support pregnant and lactating mothers and also help boost the immune system of the elderly.
The state FMARD director said: “The purpose of this meeting is to provide solutions to many challenges facing the popularisation and adoption of the OFSP among Nigerian farmers and processors nationwide.
“With this, I believe the resolutions of this meeting will help the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to plan adequately for ways of supporting potato farmers and processors nationwide.
“In view of the above, it is expedient for all of us to make use of this opportunity to cross fertilise ideas and offer suggestions that will help in changing the narratives of low adoption and utilisation of OFSP in Nigeria.
“And also based on the information and knowledge gathered from the workshops become an advocate of OFSP in our various communities and states,” he said.