Nigeria. Wheat imports to drop as FG plans support for all-year potato farming

06.12.2016

There are hopes that huge sums spent on wheat imports would drop substantially with Federal Government planned support for potatoes farmers in an all-year round production.

The minister of science and technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, disclosed that the Federal Government would cut down wheat imports by 50 percent beginning from 2017, when the Potatoes Farmers Association of Nigeria (POFAN) paid him a visit in Abuja on Monday.

He assured that the challenges confronted by the potatoes farmers in the provision of technical support, designing and fabrication of equipment, provision and procurement of fertilizers, financial supports and a host of others would be addressed.

“We want to be able to provide the food needed by our population, without having to import from neighbouring countries, we cannot continue to be a consumer economy but knowledge based economy,” Onu stated.

Earlier in his address, the national president of POFAN, Daniel Okafor, disclosed that there were several challenges confronting potatoes farmers in Nigeria, and that the main reason for their visit was to seek government intervention.

“Potatoes are bulky to transport and out of ground storage in Nigeria is not widely practiced,” he stated.

According to Okafor, potatoes flour is not economically viable at current prices, but building a sustainable supply chains is another challenge.
He added that if the numerous benefits of potatoes is fully utilised, Nigeria’s present economic hardship could be ameliorated.

“Involvement in potatoes production, processing, marketing and equipment fabrication will help in the areas of job creation, improved income generating opportunities, and empowerment of women and youth.”

He urged the government to assist potatoes farmers’ especially in ensuring that potatoes is used as industrial raw materials all over Nigeria, to reduce the quantity of imported wheat which does nothing but depletes the scarce foreign reserves.

In a similar vain, the president of Oil Palm Growers Association of Nigeria, Hillary Chukwuemeka in a later visit to the minister, noted that Nigeria should not wait for dwindling crude oil price but should go into a full-scale rejuvenation of the oil palm sector.

According to Chukwuemeka, the untapped oil palm wealth is what Nigeria needs now to resuscitate its economy, adding that the government can only get this done by supporting the association through technical know-how as well as machinery.

He urged the Federal government to not only key into the growth of the oil palm sector for sustainable development of the economy, but equally help with sensitization programmes while also encouraging the state governments to support the growth of the sector.

 
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