The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has unveiled new cassava varieties developed by the NextGen project to boost cassava production in the country.
In a press statement, IITA said during the farmers’ field day and product launch in Kogi and Benue States that farmers were excited at the large sizes and number of roots produced by the new cassava varieties.
The farmers noted the difference between the new varieties and the old ones, saying Baba 70 and Game Changer yielded more than local varieties, which they were used to.
Some farmers took a few stems to plant in their fields, saying they would love to adopt the new varieties.
According to the breeders, while Game Changer can produce 32 tonnes per hectare, Baba 70 can produce 38 tonnes per hectare.
It was also proven that the new cultivars were drought-tolerant and resistant to the virus diseases of cassava.
Speaking at the event, a Molecular Geneticist and Plant Breeder with IITA, Dr. Ismail Rabbi, stated that years of consumer preference studies were conducted before releasing the varieties.
“In addition to high yield and stress tolerance, we found that these varieties are suitable for several agro-ecologies.
“Farmers, processors and consumers love these varieties because they were high-yielding, stress-tolerant, and disease-resistant and had the right food properties”, Rabbi said.
The Head of IITA GoSeed, Dr. Mercy Diebiru-Ojo, said the varieties would help to raise the livelihoods of farmers.
“I am confident that farmers who adopt these varieties will make more profit and improve their livelihoods. These varieties are also a huge contribution to food security,” she added.
Speaking on the field, the Product Manager for Crop Variety Development, IITA, Dr. Vishnuardhan Banda, expressed joy that the farmers and processors were happy with the new varieties and eager to plant them on their farms.
Banda, however, urged them to always send feedback on the performance of the varieties to the researchers.
“We want you to work with us. You are very important in the process of crop improvement. You are the farmers and the first consumers.
“We urge you to always tell us how these varieties are performing on your various farms. You have seen that these are very good varieties but we know that in years to come, you would need something new.
Just keep giving us feedback about farmers’ choices and complaints, and we the breeders will be working with that information to give you new and better products”, he said.
The former Nigerian Ambassador to Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, Ambassador Jaiyeola Lewu, who was present at the event, commended the NextGen project and the IITA and NRCRI scientists.
Association Tasks Poultry Farmers On Improved Biosecurity Measures
The Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Lagos State Chapter, has urged local farmers in Nigeria to always ensure improved biosecurity measures in their farms.
Making the call in an interview with The Tide’s source in Lagos, Chairman, Lagos State PAN, Mr Godwin Egbebe, said the group had insisted that its members adhere to strict biosecurity measures in their farms at all times, to prevent frequent disease outbreak among the flock.
“We have always sensitised local poultry farmers on the need to improve biosecurity measures on their farms, to prevent frequent disease outbreak.
“As an association, we have partnered with Animal Care, a veterinary laboratory, to help our farmers in biosecurity measures from the hatcheries.
“Biosecurity measures starts from the hatcheries. The farmers are advised to take new birds to the laboratory for tests, before mixing them with their flock.
“It is good to know the health status of any bird before mixing them with prior flock,” he said.
Egbebe also called on the poultry farmers to restrict access of people to their farms, to forestall disease spread among their flock.
He also reiterated the need for basic sanitation service in all poultry farms and proper disposal of litters.
“We also encourage our farmers to discourage constant traffic in their farms. People should not get random access to the farms to prevent disease outbreak.
“Poultry farms should also have sanitation facilities at the entrance of their farms such as water, soap and sanitisers, to avoid bacterial transmission to the birds.
“It is also important that bird litters are properly disposed of because indiscriminate disposal of the litters will increase disease proliferation across farms,” he said.
The PAN boss noted that to promote biosecurity measures in farms across the state, Animal Care gave members 30 per cent discount for their laboratory services.
Institute Seeks Sustainable Research In Food Security
The Executive Director, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Dr Patrick Adebola, has stated the need for Federal Government to assist the institute in sustainable research toward ensuring food security in Nigeria.
Adebola said this on Tuesday in Ibadan at the In-house Research Report Meeting of CRIN with the theme: “National Economic Empowerment Through Sustainable Research and Development of Cocoa, Cashew, Coffee, Kolanut and Tea”.
He said Nigeria and the rest of the world had been experiencing crisis, which has adverse effects on availability of food.
“We, at our in-house research review meeting, specifically chose this topic, so as to address the issue of food security.
“Addressing the issue of food security has to be through research, because if there is no research focus, there is no way we can increase food production or ensure that the food we are producing are nutritional and increased yield by farmers.
“Sustainability in terms of our research because research has to be continuous as we have to keep producing new varieties of crops to sustain the economy and food production in the country,” he said.
Adebola identified lack of extension services to farmers as a huge gap.
“But, due to the fact that the farmers are scattered all over the country and dearth in the number of Extension Officers, they were unknown to farmers.
“To bridge this gap, CRIN from time to time organises a lot of training and workshops to reach the farmers.
“But, I will enjoin the government to still support us so that we will have more extension officers that can take all the technologies back to the farmers for them to be able to adopt it,” he said.
Also speaking, Dr Rasheed Adedeji, the Director Programme Leader in charge of Cocoa Research Programme, CRIN, said Nigeria has hope, “but all the stakeholders have to come together and face the issues in Cocoa production squarely to achieve results”.
Adedeji traced issues in agricultural production generally in Nigeria to the discovery of petroleum products.
Fish Farmers Urge Govt To Boost Aquaculture In Nigeria
Fish Farmers in Port Harcourt have urged the State and Federal Governments to assist in boosting Aquaculture in the country.
Director of Albert Farms, Mr. Albert Adindu, made the call yesterday in an exclusive interview with The Tide in Port Harcourt.
Adindu, who said the call has become necessary, noted that the cost of feed has become higher than it should be, saying that many farms have closed down due to the high cost of production.
The Albert Farm’s Director said most times the farmers operate at a loss, just to retain their customers.
He noted that urgent attention need to be given to agriculture as a whole by the three tiers of government in the nation to enhance the poor economic situation of the country.
“Agriculture can serve as a safe landing for the bastardised Nigerian economy. The sector alone can settle the problem of unemployment and food security, if leaders would do the needful”, he said.
Another farmer, Mr. Harold Ekeke, who has a poultry farm in Oyibo, Rivers State, said: “Agriculture would not yield the needed result of saving and boosting the economy, if government refuse to play her role in supporting farmers.
“It requires either long term loan or grant to survive the heat in the system. Majority of farmers here are still using the old method of farming, while mechanised system has become the order of the day.
“This is the only way to have food security and stop importing almost everything into the country that can stand on its own.”
It would be recalled that the National Liaison Officer of Catfish and Allied Fish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFFAN ), Abuja Chapter, Mr Adamu Gambo appealed to the Federal Government to boost the sector for maximum productivity.
Gambo urged the Federal Government to assist fish farmers in the country by subsidising fish feed, saying that the high cost of feed had affected the price of fish in the market.
According to him, fish feed consumes between 70 and 80 per cent of the financial investment in fishry, thereby making it more expensive to rear fishes.
He said fish, the commonest source of protein for the masses, was no longer easy to come by due to high cost of feed.
Gambo, therefore, urged the Federal Government to subsidise and allow local production of fish feeds.
He said that soya beans, maize and groundnut cake meals were the three main ingredients making up the feed, but were also very expensive.
“If the cost of production does not drop, there is no way the price of fish can drop,” Gambo said.
He, however, commended the government for its efforts in safeguarding healthy consumption of fishes in the country through agencies such as SON and NAFDAC.
By: Lilian Peters
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