The Kogi State Government is to facilitate the planting of over 21,000 hectares of cassava farms in 2017 as part of efforts toward actualizing the shift from subsistence farming to commercial agriculture.
Dr. Isah Ochepa, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, disclosed this at a meeting of the state agricultural Core Delivery Team on Wednesday in Lokoja.
Ochepa said that farmers in each of the 21 Local Government Areas of Kogi State were expected to cultivate 1,000 hectares each to make up the 21,000 hectares.
Abraham Ahmed, the Acting Director, Planning Research and Statistics of the ministry, said that since off-takers of the produce were already on ground, glut was no longer an issue.
Also speaking, the Acting Managing Director of the state Agricultural Development Project, James Ogunmola, said efforts were also being made to train farmers on preservation of some farm produce.
According to Ogundamola, this will enable preservation of the sweet potato vines for distribution to farmers during the next rainy season.
He said that the state government had planned to embark on mass production of the orange flesh sweet potatoes.
He said that the nutritional value of the vegetable crop was high and had been recommended for children and adults, especially diabetic patients.
The Managing Director said the decision to produce the potatoes in large quantity was made against the backdrop of the school feeding scheme being contemplated by the state government.
Ogunmola described it as a women-friendly crop being planted in Kenya and Tanzania, saying that assimilation of its carbohydrate content during metabolism was gradual and not at once as with others.
Earlier, Victor Adejoh, Team Leader of Synergos Nigeria, organisers of the CDT programme said the meeting was aimed at engaging government officials on the need to provide for activities of the State Partnership for Agriculture in 2017 budget.
Adejoh said Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, providing support for the various SPA programmes through Synergos, wanted to see government’s commitment for the partnership in transforming agriculture.
He appealed to CDT members and key budget officials to have the SPA captured in the 2017 budget.
According to him, the target of Synergos in the SPA is to develop an all-inclusive policy to drive the transformation from subsistence farming to agriculture as business.