Nigeria, Zambia lead in bio-fortified crops
Of the 1.5 million farming households now growing bio-fortified food crops in the world, 1.4 million are in Africa, Nigeria’s Minister for Agriculture Dr Akinwumi Adesina has said.
The minister spoke at the 2nd Global Conference on BioFortification in Kigali, Rwanda.
Director of Information and Protocol, Tony Ohaeri, in a statement he issued, quoted the minister saying for Africa to succeed in lifting millions out of poverty and create a model of shared prosperity, it must focus on the transformation of its rural economies through agriculture.
The statement commended the work of scientists on the development of crops that have micro-nutrients, spearheaded by HarvestPlus fifteen years ago.
It said the work has started yielding positive results across developing countries, as provitamin A cassava and maize have been released in Nigeria and Zambia, while orange flesh sweet potato continued to make significant progress in several African countries.
The minister expressed the readiness of Nigeria to give a strong political support for biofortification in Africa, adding that his ministry has distributed stems of pro-vitamin A cassava to over 350,000 farmers in the year 2014, as against 100,000 reached in 2013.
He maintained the need to produce high energy foods like sorghum, soybeans and maize, saying Nigeria is the largest producer of food sorghum in the world.
To scale up the adoption of nutrient-rich crops, there is the need to use price incentives and farm subsidies to massively address demand side issues, especially consumer through marketing and awareness creation to drive demand.
“Africa must look inwards and take advantage of its own crops and private sector to produce all the high energy foods it needs,” he said.