Sokoto sweet potato farm­ers ready for mass pro­duc­tion

Daily Trust - - GOLDEN HARVEST - From Rakiya A. Muham­mad, Sokoto

Sweet potato farm­ers in Sokoto State say they are ready for mass pro­duc­tion of the com­mod­ity with nec­es­sary sup­port from the stake­hold­ers in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

Many farm­ers in the 23 lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas of the state are into sweet potato pro­duc­tion but grow them mostly for lo­cal con­sump­tion.

“We should be en­cour­aged to pro­duce more sweet pota­toes as we have the po­ten­tial to be a fore­most state in sweet potato pro­duc­tion in Nigeria with ad­e­quate sup­port,” a farmer, Malam Aliyu, said.

The farm­ers noted the avail­abil­ity of the root veg­etable in al­most all lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas of the state but more prom­i­nent in Sabon Birni, Wurno, Gwad­abawa, Rabah, Sil­ame, Sokoto North and Wa­makko.

The chair­man Sokoto State chap­ter of All Farm­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Nigeria, Al­haji Mur­tala Ga­gada Min­nanata, said lack of sup­port from gov­ern­ment and com­mer­cial banks con­trib­uted to low level of sweet potato pro­duc­tion in the state.

“Farm­ers in the 23 lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas of Sokoto are into sweet potato pro­duc­tion but could not go beyond lo­cal con­sump­tion ca­pac­ity,” he stated.

Min­nanata said com­mer­cial and agriculture banks do not give loans to farm­ers with­out gov­ern­ment en­dorse­ment.

At Kara mar­ket’s sweet potato de­pot, the chair­man, Al­haji Dan Shehu, said al­most on a daily ba­sis, they re­ceived sup­ply of about four-five truck loads of sweet potato from the var­i­ous lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas.

He said the price of a sack of sweet potato var­ied ac­cord­ing to size with the big­gest sack sold at between N6,500 and N7,000. He added that a truck load costs N375,000 and that each truck car­ried 50 sacks of the com­mod­ity.

Dan Shehu noted sweet potato can be grown dur­ing both dry and rainy sea­sons, adding that the mar­ket hardly ex­pe­ri­enced scarcity be­cause there was never pe­riod of short sup­ply or non-sup­ply.

“Even if the Sokoto sup­ply di­min­ishes, we get sup­ply from Zam­fara State and Zaria, but there’s hardly scarcity,” he said.

He urged for sup­port from gov­ern­ment so that sweet potato farm­ers can ac­cess loan fa­cil­i­ties from banks, fer­til­izer, wa­ter pumping ma­chines and other in­puts at sub­si­dized rates in­stead of buy­ing from the open mar­ket at ex­or­bi­tant prices.

Some sweet potato con­sumers have also sug­gested that it could be used for flour pro­duc­tion just as they noted the need to in­crease aware­ness on its nu­tri­tional value to boost de­mand.

“Sweet potato is a very nu­tri­tious food noted to be a good source of di­etary fi­bre and rich in vi­ta­mins such as Vi­ta­min A, C, B6 among oth­ers and with in­creased aware­ness, there would be more de­mand for the prod­uct within and out­side the state,” one of them, Ha­jiya Aisha Us­man, noted.

Some sweet pota­toes

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