HarvestPlus, MAN seek for increased markets for Vitamin a maize
In a bid to provide robust markets for Vitamin A maize to address malnutrition and improve public health in the country, a non-profit research organisation, HarvestPlus and Maize Association of Nigeria (MAN) have called on the government to provide enabling environment to improve cultivation of the crop.
Country Manager of HarvestPlus, Mr. Yusuf Dollah, addressing journalists in Abuja, stressed the need to improve nutrition and public health of the citizenry through the development of staple food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals.
According to him, Vitamin A maize seeds are high yielding, disease resistant and drought tolerant as the nutrient is important for healthy skin, strong immune system, good eyesight and prevention of diarrhea in children.
Dollah disclosed that at the beginning of 2021 planting season, over 9,000 metric tonnes of vitamin A maize seeds were produced and distributed throughout the country by over 20 seed companies.
He noted that his organisation worked tirelessly to ensure that farmers have access to these seed varieties through the local agro-dealers in various communities across the country.
He stated that vitamin A maize, which matures within 80 days of planting to harvest, is currently being harvested from various agro regions across the country.
He noted that from the findings of the organisation at the field of harvest, there is going to be bumper harvest this year.
According to him, “With this bumper harvest, there should be market for the farmers to be able to their harvest; this will motivate the farmers to do more in the coming year.
“This will also translate to increase in seed purchase and the seed company will as well be motivated to increase volume of seeds to be multiplied. If the market fails the farmer, he will be demotivated to continue with these varieties.”
This will translate to low seed sales by the seed companies and the seed company may decide to dump the varieties. This outcome is referred to as value chain failure, a situation where both the seed and food systems crash. This is a disaster we must avoid.”
Also speaking, President of Maize Association of Nigeria, Dr. Bello Abubakar, stressed the need for government to create enabling environment and robust markets for Vitamin A maize to thrive.
Abubakar pointed out that maize farmers needed to be encouraged and incentivized, adding that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should intensify efforts to link maize farmers to processing industries for Vitamin A maize.
In his remarks, Dr. Adeleke Mufutau, Maize Value Chain Co-ordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said maize is no longer in short supply in Nigeria.
Mufutau said before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria was producing about 15.5 million metric tonnes of maize, adding that the demand was about 18.5 million metric tonnes.
He said that currently the supply and demand gap has been bridged through the Federal Government’s collaboration with MAN, HarvestPlus and other critical stakeholders in the maize value chain.