Minister maps plan for food security, vitamin a cassava

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh


    Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbe, has disclosed avenues the Federal Government is exploring to ensure food is available for every Nigerian all year round, especially during dry seasons.

    He said that government has planned to dam some rivers and streams to encourage dry season farming and aquaculture as well as the establishment of cassava flour mills equipped with flash dryers to process high-quality odourlous cassava for domestic consumption and for export.Ogbe, who was represented by the coordinating director of the Nigeria Agriculture Quarantine Service, Dr. Vincent Isegbe, said this at the flag off of the youth engagement and enterprise development along cassava value chain and distribution of vitamin A cassava stems to farmers in Otukpo Benue State on Friday.

    Noting that there was need to explore opportunities in the cassava value chain, he said, “We are working with the
Angelina Ogbole Memorial Foundation, which is collaborating with HarvestPlus International to ensure the incorporation of essential micronutrients such as vitamin A, zinc and iron in our staple food crops.”



Akwa Ibom Partners

Partners in Akwa Ibom Charged On Impact, Standards

Following an impressive campaign in pushing for the adoption of vitamin A cassava in the state, Akwa Ibom State HarvestPlus partners have been urged to continue with the good work, ensure impact of the project spreads to neighbouring states and promote standardization.

   This was the resolution of the country office’s meeting with the Akwa Ibom State partners held last month to review activities in the past year and strategies for greater impact in the coming year.

   HarvestPlus’ Country Manager, Dr. Paul Ilona, charged the partners to ensure that their efforts cause the desired change in agricultural practices, nutrition and enterprise in the state, noting that much as there was need to expand to other states, there was need to further strengthen relations among partners in the state too.

   “Everybody needs to work together. If we don’t do so, we would run into serious problems. The dream at the outset in 2010 is that, by now, partners in the state would have started working with other states. We are committed to that and we hope that the partners would get there soon,” he said.

   Emphasising the need for up-to-date, real time data to track progress in the state, he said “we need real time data so as to be able to track and reach out to people beyond our domain, so as to effectively scale out the project.”

  The Director of Extension in the Akwa Ibom State Agricultural Development Project (AKADEP), Emmanuel Akpan, said the partners are committed to maintaining the high pace with which they have conducted their activities.

   He delighted in the fact that the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development (DFID) Market Development in the Niger Delta (MADE) in partnership with HarvestPlus Nigeria held training on techniques for using vitamin A cassava for women in pastries business.

   “We are delighted that, apart from Oyo State, we score high in HarvestPlus activities. We are hoping that we would have more of such trainings in future.”

    Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU) partner and cassava enterprise development specialist, Dr. Edna Akpan said partners in the state were expanding their network and are making in-roads in government circles, noting that healthy relations have been established with the state government to mainstream vitamin A cassava into the state’s programmes.


Success Story

Malnutrition: Vitamin A Weaning Formula To The Rescue

MALNUTRITION is an acute health challenge in developing countries, and has been described as a raging silent crisis. The condition not only limits the growth and development of children, it impacts on their wellbeing and ability to contribute meaningfully to society later in life. In Nigeria, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) estimates that about 2300 children die daily from malnutrition, an indices that is alarming and calls for urgent attention.

   While government may be looking for a grand design to tackle the menace, Victor Sylvanus Udoh, is determined to take on the crisis head-on, starting from his home state, Akwa-Ibom. He runs Vig and Berry Production Company, which makes pro vitamin A weaning formula for children.

   Alarmed by the effects of malnutrition, he decided to tap into the nutritional content of vitamin A cassava to produce what he hopes would “tackle the challenge of malnutrition.”     

    “I went into business because I wanted to explore the opportunities in vitamin A cassava. It gave me the idea for the formula. Having a food that is high in vitamins and minerals and that satisfies hidden hunger is tremendous gift to our communities. My primary focus is the children, most of whom are malnourished. I saw vitamin A cassava as a solution to that challenge,” he averred.

    He said he has vitamin A cassava as the major ingredient for the formula, adding, “The ratio of vitamin A cassava that goes into the weaning formula depends on the volume of the production. I usually have a ratio of 1 to 2 to 3, combining it with cereal and other grains. I use vitamin A cassava as the sweetener and also as the major source of vitamin A. Besides that, the colour of the vitamin A flour enhances the colour of the finished product; it makes it more appealing. Many mothers say their children like how the product looks.”

  The major production activity required, according to him, is to make the product into the required standard and also reduce the anti-nutrients in the cereals and grains used in fortifying the formula.

   “When we use soybeans, we fry it before we add it to the baby weaning formula. We also balance it with other food substances such as protein, carbohydrate and vitamins,” he said.

    He has had to compete with conventional, artificial weaning formulas, but has devised a clear cut marketing strategy to win over pregnant and nursing mothers, cashing on the demand for natural, cheaper products.

   “The response to the product has been encouraging. Many parents complain that their children do not like artificial food substances, so they needed something natural. We take the products to health centers to introduce them to pregnant mothers when they come for antenatal classes. This is to tune their reasoning towards what they should use. We made them understand that the inputs are purely organic and that we don’t add any artificial substance,” he said.

  On the economics around the product, he said, “We grow the vitamin A cassava, which reduces the cost of production and makes the profit margin very high. In every one ton we produce, we make at least 30 percent profit. So, it is highly encouraging. In fact, with N10,000 investment, one can make about N20,000 profit.

  “The product is sold in Lagos and Port Harcourt. We send it to them and, in some instances, where they want to get into the production, we have been invited to train people in those states.

    The market is available, in as much as babies are born every day. Though the economy is tough and people may find it difficult going for the more expensive artificial products, which goes for about N1000, ours goes for N500 for 1kg. Depending on the eating habit of the child, it lasts for 10 days to one to two weeks.”

    He said the business is designed a manner that allows it to easily scale up and expand to accommodate more people in the production, as marketers and others involved in the chain of production are encouraged to learn how to make the product, noting, “everyone is carried along. The marketers are not only mandated to sell to people; they are encouraged to learn how to make the weaning formula.

   But Udoh is not only seeking to conquer the Nigerian market. After attending exhibitions and placing the product on the Internet, he has gotten requests for linkages with some International Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) involved with nutrition.

  “We want to improve on the packaging and get nod from the National Food and Drug Administration and Control Agency (NAFDAC). We also want to address issues of packaging working with our partners. With those, we would be on the right pedestal to scale up and meet international demands,” he said.   



Launching of Planting Season


On Saturday7th May 2016 HarvestPlus Nigeria in partnership with Federal College of Agriculture Akure (FECA) launched the 2016 planting season for biofortified vitamin A cassava and maize at Federal College of Agriculture Akure (FECA), Ondo state

Speaking at the event on the Updates made in the development and commercialization of vitamin A cassava and Maize in Nigeria, the Country Manager for HarvestPlus Nigeria, Paul Ilona explained the need for Nigerians to have access to nutritious foods through the consumption of biofortified foods.

He further explained that “No fewer than 2,200 children under the age of five die every day in Nigeria due to lack of these nutrients, to curtail this we must improve our nutrition”.

He added that the organisation’s partnership with the Federal College of Agriculture Akure (FECA) will help fast track the training students in the production of biofortified crops.

“Apart from vitamin A cassava and maize we are working to introduce other nutritious staple food crops like vitamin A plantain and banana to ensure which shall serve as channels to provide essential nutrients to Nigerians,” he explained.

Present at the event was the Governor of Ondo State His Excellency Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, represented by the State’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Segun Ayerin, The Provost Federal College of Agriculture Akure (FECA), Dr Adeola Odedina, The Executive Secretary of Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Prof B.Y Abubakar, The Deji of Akure Kingdom, His Royalk Majesty, Oba Ajadetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi (Odundun II).

Highlights of the event include the presentation of an awards to Governor of Ondo State His Excellency Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, represented by the State’s Commissioner for Agriculture and the The Deji of Akure Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, Oba Ajadetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi (Odundun II) and the launching of bio-fort point of sale, processing center and biofort restaurant.


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