—Targets 500,000MT Demand for Biofortified Crops and Foods In 2017
HarvestPlus hosted over 150 farmers, extension agents, food processors and marketers at the first edition of its bi-monthly business forum to stimulate increased investment and bridge the supply gap in the biofortified seeds and foods value chain.
The forum was organized for stakeholders in the biofortified seeds and foods sector to share experiences, challenges and successes recorded in the course of commercializing vitamin A cassava and vitamin A maize in Nigeria.
The deliberations at the forum is expected to foster strong commitment by investors to key into the various investment opportunities in the biofortified crops value chain and also have a ripple effect among smallholder farmers and medium scale investors, both of whom are expected to form farming clusters around processing centers for greater efficiency and profitability.
Sharing his experience as a key player in the value chain, Provost, Federal College of Agriculture, Akure, (FECA), Dr. Samson Odedina, said the forum was timely as it was obvious that the demand for biofortified foods far exceeded supply.
According to him, “In 2016, students and other investors in my College made well over N50 million ($158,730) in the sales of biofortified crops and foods. The demand for the products is growing. It is becoming evident that our production is not enough for the market. This is why this forum is important. We need everyone here and even more people to get involved.”
HarvestPlus Country Manager, Dr. Paul Ilona, said the turnout of investors at the forum points to the growing adoption of biofortified crops by Nigerians. He added that this called for a marshal plan that would ensure the rural poor in Nigeria can access and afford biofortified crops and foods.
“We project 500,000Mt demand for biofortified crops and foods in Nigeria in 2017. Small scale enterprises are short of flour to make combobites. Processors are in constant demand for roots. All these gaps require farmers with keen business acumen to spot and exploit. This must be done because the need to tackle micronutrient deficiency is rising by the day. We cannot afford to let malnutrition win this war,” he said.
The next edition of the business forum holds on March 31 at FECA, Ondo State. It promises to engage even more stakeholders across the Nigeria.