Nigeria, Zam­bia lead in bio-for­ti­fied crops

Daily Trust - - NEWS - By Vin­cent A. Yusuf

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.

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