15 Niger ian
Tribune ...!ueidilY, 8 November, 201 1
CFC, IFDC launch new discoveries in cassava revolution I
HE Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and industry (LCCl)'s Conference and Exhibition centie at Olowopopo way, besides MKO Abiola garden, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, last week w itnessed the convergence of seasoned joumalists both from print and electronic media (rom different parts of the country when they rubbed minds togetht>r with agricultural experts from withi n and outside the country during the launch of a comprehensive documenlary film entitled: Cassan Revolulion. The rum, "Cassava Revolution", is a documentary that touches the very heart of Nigeria's economic problems and tlle forum was tagged: A broadcasters' forum on Nigeria's Cassava Revolution. The documentary film was produced by Communicating for Change (CFC) for the International Fertiliser ~velopment Centre (IFDC). in partnership with the Dutch Agricultural Development and Trading Company (DADTCO). Speaking ilt the launch of the documentary film. the Founder/DiIector of the Communicating For Change (<;:Fq, Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, said ;dthough Nigeria was the larg,->st producer of cassava in the world, the country, however, is not benefiting from this staple crop and our fanners remain some of the poorest in the continent of Africa. According to her, most of the cassava roots are lost because of iIladequate storage and processing facilities, as well a.i ~r market aca!SS. "Cassava roots, once harvested , start d eteriorating within 48 hours, thus making it difficult for traditional processing companies to ~o ll ecl and process the tubers before spoilage. Although we are number one producer of cassava but we have nott-ing to sho\\' for it as a nation. The crop is not even contributing anything to our economy despite the millions of tons we produce yearly which is put al 45 million Ions. We must however change cassa\'a from being a subsistence crop to a cash crop," she posited. Mbanefo Obiago also posited that the IFDC and DADTCO arE' pleased to present the film to Nigerians and Nigeria's leading broadcasters, agriculture experts and print journalists in an effort to show ho\\' public-
private partnerships can transform cassava into an ec0nomically viable crop, which if adopted would enable Nigeria to realise the first Millenium Deve.lopment Goal (MlX;) which focused on alleviating poverty. ·'In cooperation and partnership with the Taraba, Osun and River states, the Dutch government and other,including IFDC and DADTCO, are helping small holder cass.1va fanners transition from poverty cycle to the prosperity cycle and the Cassava Revolution projed is also making a huge impact from the grassroot up to high end industry", she emphasised. Speaking further, the-CFC director said having d...iscussed extensively with the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development,Dr Akinwumi Adesim"l, she realised that an end would soon come to bulk importation of foods (rom other countries of the world, stressing that the minister insisted that he was not going to be a Federal Minister of Agricultun! over poor pciople and Nigeria cannot continue be a museum of poverty. In the film. the minister said; "the only way to change the situation where we have 70 per cent of our people living on less than a dollar a day, is to take agriculture very serio~ly OIl all levels, Agriculture shou1d generate
I'd have wished Nigerian crude oil dried up' ' M OST of the prob l ems .... e have in Nigeria todl), a.re selfimposed and many of our crises ilre self-infleeted . The same thing is what we ar~ presently faang in the nation's agricu ltural se<tor and unless we tak.! proactive measures to address them, the ploblem may continue lu :Oluront us in the fa ce." 1l,ese stat2ments was credited to UamsterOkey Nwachukwu the Execulive D in.>.:t or, News, Voiet' of Nigeria (VON) while speaking in Lagos recently. Nwac:hu kwu said it is very sad that the country was stW sp'!lldi.ng billions of nair,1 to import food des p ite our favourable weather that encourages f,lnning and with aburdant resources. He lamented that the country is not p lacing emphasis Oil lIgriculture,
The journal isl further said he is always im· pressed anytime h e pay visit to tl\eUniversityof Ibadan, Un..iversity College Haspital (UCH), I bad an, 0 b a f e m i Awolowo Un ive rs ity (OAUl, lIe-Ife, Osun State and the Cocoa-House in Ibadan, which he emphasised addi ng that if proper were built with the p~ things are done, the coun- ceed from agriculture by try suppose to bc s export· the late Sage, Chief ing foods to other African Obafemi Awolowo, even countries. at a time when e\'erybody He also observed that regarded agriculture as huge prob lems are s till th e bac kb.one of our faci ng the nation' s agri- economy. cultural sector which is re-He also posited that sponsible for high food things have completely prices, stressing that changed since the discovmany farmers are s lill ery of crude oil, adding suffering without having thai the agricultural secaccess to farm inputs and . tor had betn abandoned funds to increase the ir for the down stream secproduction capacity. to r, tbus leading to the
deteriorating nature of the agricultural sector. He, however, said o ne of the panaceas that could be used to rescue the nation's agricul tural sector was to treil t farming as a lucreative economic venture. In h is words, " there is no company, espedally pharmaceutical ~ompa ni es that does not need one or more raw material from agricultural secto r_ For instance, there is n o pharma ceut ica l co mpa ny tha t would not need sta rch, which is a rnajor by· product of cassava . Therefore, I wou ld have wis h ed Nigeria's cr ude oi l dried up so that we can get our senses right and focus on developing the nation's agricultural sector. Not until we give recognition to the secto r, the nation's economic may not develop.
enough .....ealth and not poverty, and I think the problem of Nigeria is that a lot of what I see is not agriculture. "A tot of what I see is farming and farming is what you do when you want 10 be poor, while agriculture Is whal you do when you want to get rich. So we've got to get back into the business of making.agricullure work for the small farme.rs in Nigeria." Meanwhile, the Cassava Revolution film is a mustwatch documentary for Nigerian farmers, because it shows and educates how Nigerian subsistence farmers can shift to commercial cassava farming. The film also showcases the innovative Cassava Plus project, a partnership between IFDC and the Dutch Agricultural Development and Trading Company (DADTCO) in Taraba, Rivers and Osun states. Cassava PIUS,a programme designed to boost its production and marketing. According to experts. cassava plus is presently revoluHonising the cassava market by working with farmers in some states, teaching them how to con· vert cassava from a subsistence crop to a viable cash
oop. Many fanners in states like Osun. Rivers and Taraba are presently making fortune from planting and marketing of cassava. lhe country representative of IFDC. Mr Scott Wallace in an interview with Tribune Agriculture encouraged farmers in other states of the federation 10 increase their output and charged them to plead with theiI state gov· emments 10 join the revolution train in cassava plant· ing and marketing . "We are detennined to make millionnaires from cassava farming in Nigeria. It has started and there is no going back. In fact, the new Minister of Agrinilture is detennined to regu.la.rly fuel the revolution vehicle,'" he advised.
Armed robbers kilPNAQS scientist EMBERS of staff and scientists at the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Ser· vice (NAQSrs head office at Apata-Ganga Ibada n, OyoState, are presently in sad mood, while the Coordinating Directors of the agency, Mrs Olutosin Olwunke Osifosu.nrln is also down emotionaUy over the sudden death of a prominent scientist in the agency, Mr Olusola Wintola . . j The late spentiFt, ' Wintola, met hi s un· timely de a th · along Okene·Kabba road ~ Kogi State where he ~as gunned down by cri~ nats white. coming from the Federal Capital Terri-
.tqry FOT), Abuja. after at· tendi.ng to some crucial offidaJ aSSignments. lnformation made available to Tribune Agriculture has it that Wintolaon the fateful day, chatte.red a commercial bus from Abuja 10 Ibadan,but while coming tct lbadan. he was attacked on Okene-Kabba road by a I gang of dare devil armed robbers. Before his dealth, Wintola was \the Head, Seed HealthTesting De· partme n t of the NAQS; lbadan. and was regarded one of the engine rooms o the agency. He was also a Ph.D student at the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU). Ogun State_