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28-VanfJuard, FRIDJ\Y.. SEFTEMBER 16. ;JOII

BUSINESS/ AGRICULTURE

Manze 'Green Revolution'in Nigeria underway I GERIA aillUI' to raise m.e.tze rroduclion to 20 million lOllS per all num up Irom the c urr ent 8 millions ton1 in HIe next lew yea rs. The mov,' Is part of efforts to e ' \hance food security, cte'lte jobs, and more ImpottnnUy, cushion the oU·liclt n'llion from the elfects of rising food prices. Dr. AkIn Adesina , M i nister o f AgricuHure aDd Rural Development, said th e n ew efforts would transform maize industJy and make fuming more profitable . Mllize Is r onsumed by mlllions of l'·lgerians. Il1ld its producti·tity has been Itymied by low adoption of improved se!ds, poor seed quality, litU,· or no use of fertillz e rs , le w investment in research funding, and poor ~tensi 'l n services, In tb e 19 8 0 s, Nigeria experienced uilent Malze Revolution ill thesavll1lnah

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but the transformation was not !fUstained. "We have begun " journey of transformlltion il journey to re. englneer Nigerilln 6.grlcu Hu re lor high impact and success. n Adesln6. said during 6. meeting with a t eam 01 mltize experts in AbuJa. In creas ing maize p roduction wiU ensure food security, and generate income alld Jobs. Ade&ina called on experts to transla te research and Innovations Into ImpO!lcts on lrumer:;' field::, adding that "we must do this O!It il scale that can r educe h unge:r lind poverty, ~ According to him. government has re&olved to " rehuild the broken waUs 01 Nigeria's agriculture. "Our resolve is clear: Grow Nigierian Agriculture," he adce:d.. The maize team, on Sunday, submitted a blueprint 011 how to +

Fifth lrom lell. the MinislHolAgrlculfure and Rural Del'(uopmenl. Dr. Akin Adeslna; iHld other member:r althe maize feam during a meeting in AhUjd fa drilUl a roadmap l or maize in Abuja achieve the lIew targets, Dr. Slim Ajala. !ITA Maize Bree der. said the focus on maize was a step in the right direction, " U you look at maize, it has the highest retum on investment compared wiUI other crops. So if we are able 10 get it right in maize It will be grellt." he said on Tuesday.

AgricultUioe offers recipe for Nigeria'S economic challenges J\ GRIC U-.T ULTURE is .t-\.orle of H igeril!.'s mos t powerful tooh; in addresshl!1 its goals of creating more employment, better publ.i c bellHh, p nd great e r economic growth, says Hartlnan n , D irector Ge n e rlll o! the ) badan· bas e d I nternational Institute 01 Troplclll Agrir.: ultu rle In his pre ;entation titled " Forging !lD economic trans lolmalion: the rol e of agricultural research and productivity" 6.t Ih e monthly le::ture series of the National Inslltute 01 Soc:iel ar d Economic Reso:!arch (NIS ER) in lbad.,n , Hartmann said the Iran. formation of agriculture wou ld stimulate sma.lI· and medium ·sized industries thet a re In lact the engine of econorm c growth. The n eed to locus on a grlc'.llturr stems Iroto the fact th ai the sector accounts f"r 70 percent 01 the peol'l , in the rur a l ereas. th e glowing demllnd for fo o d an d . more importantl " the about 4.4. perc e nt cln lrlbuUon o r ag rlcuHm e to Nigeria's Gross Dorr es tic Producl

Hartma.nn said tba t achieving economic tr a nsformation wou ld require more Investments in agricu ltura l research and d evelo pment and the d evelopment of Infrastructure. He also said that Nigeria n eeds to build Its defense against b iological threa.ts to crops just as is being done for the military, He noted that agriculture in Nigeria. in recent decades hilS been a neglec ted seclor. adding th a t 9(11ns have been con s trained by weak Institutions and Inadequate infrastructure. 'These constraints are 'lieU known. Less known are th e limited tlpp liclltion 01 technologies, the low skill base In the sector. and its agi ng population. The young are lleelng rural aJellS and the production side 01 th ll'! sector. Simlla !ly. finand,,1 Ins titution s \'iew the agricultural sector (liS risky e nd s o It rece ives a very small portion 01 commercilll cTedit." he said. Accordin g to him, getting the young Interested In agriculture

an d developing a s upportive financial system to facilitate the access of farmers. traders. and processors to credit could go a long way In addressing several national needs, He described the ag ri cultural setting in Nigeria as 'dynam i c,' explaining Ihat the problems/chall enges ladng agriculture could be turned to profits.

Researchers aim 10 le verage on eallier su cresses recorded UDder th e Doubling Maize Project that proved Ihat maize yield could be doubled on farme rs' fields . The new move will also benefit from the plethora of innovations that are stiU i n inte rnational and national rese erch centlers

wailing 10 be adopled by farmers. For Instance, high . yielding and di sees e· resistant varieties that are adaptllble t o Nigeria's various agroecological zones, and drought. and Striga. resist ant varieties that could address on·farm stresses. would be deployed to farme:rs.

Expert recommends agric biotechnology tQ boost food production T"\ R Kenneth Nwosu, l....dl e Executive Director. N li tiollal Root Crops Research Insti tute (NRCRI). Umudlke in Abill. has said that the adoption of lIgricultura l biote chnol ogy will boost load production, help ac hi eve lIational food security and ensure s u s tainllbility 0 1 the sector: He said thaI the institute had r ecorded posilive results through tbe

lIpplicat.i on of mod~rn biotechnology ollsome CTOpS. "The use 01 biotechnology wHl be a success story in Nigeria because any technology that is te&ted globally and a pproved as suitable for human beings, can be applied in any 1>6.1'1 of Ule world. " Nigeria's case should 1I0t be dilfer-ent lind I hope the country will not be left behind in the s che me 01 things, n Nwosu said. He furth er said

Nigeria, 13 African countries to benefit from sweet potato initiative l\. nGERlA and 13 other

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cou ntri es will benefit from the 'Sweet Potllto for Ptvfltand Health Initiative,' being developed by tbe International Pot a to Centre based in Nairobi. Kenya. Mrs Jan Low, t e llm lea der 01 the irutia tive, w hile s peaking with journalists in Ahujll ul d "N igeria's p a rticipation in t h e initiativ e will increase producti v ity of sweet potato and create dir ect employment lot abo ut 1.5

Also early. intermedia te, and late. maturlng varieties with yields up 10 thrice as much liS traditional va rieties will help farm ers tackle the negative effects of climate change. "We Me optimistic Uillt if gi ve n the neces:lary support we:wiU achieve th e 20 million tons." Ajal a said .

million Nigeri an larmers," she said. She sai d the Initiative, launched In 2009. w ould impact on tbe liv es o f 10 million African households III 14 African countril!:!!l by 2020, ~ through e ffective and diverslfie:d use 01 ,weep po tato ,~

She I/lid East Nri cans I!.ppreclated the value of sweet potatomoreUwt West Africans. She expressed dismay thllt Nigeria, th e second large5 t producer of s weet pola lo in lub·

Saharan Africa. His adding littl e or no value to the crop whicb has a short planting per:iod ~. She H"pressed concern that tbe crop was b e ing und erulilised In Nige ria, noling that its cultivation did not require muc h Ilibour like yarn and other crops. Low said thelnltiative has become Imperative because Wnt Africans. In cluding N ige rians . h a d not' yet recognised swt'et potato as a vital ingredient In food develo pment and security.

that more than 3.500 fllnnt'lS across the six geopolitical zones of the country h a d benefitt e d bOUl theirutitule's productll. According to him , the application of biotechnology en "ble d Nigeria to become Ih e world's large&t producer of cassava and yaUl with production a t about 33. 1 million t on nes and 19 miiUon tormes a nnu fl ll y re!lpectively. "Cassava prodUction IS now 33. 1 million tonnes an nually a nd yllDl is 19 million tones annulllly, This track record which has placed Nigeria on the world m ap. WIIS achieved through the app li cati on 01 biotechnology." he said. Th e executive dire c tor notled that Hie d e\'elopment of mini·

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technique wblch belped to reduce the prodUction cost of yam, c assava, sweet potato an d cocoyam . WliS one 01 th l!' not a h le ac biev ements mnde b y th e institute, The institute. he said, h ad rl!'ieased 17 \·a.lieties of cassava. add ing th at six Improved varieties of yanl would soon be re lellsed

VANGUARD, 16 SEPTEMBER, 2011  

Nigeria, 13 African countries to benefit from sweet potato initiative

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