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An international agro-based organisation, HarvestPlus Nigeria, had concluded plans to secure 200 hectares of land for planting vitamin A cassava in Epe.
Dr Paul Ilona, HarvestPlus Country Manager, disclosed this during a stakeholders meeting, held with farmers in Epe, on Thursday.
He said that the development would enable the organisation to extend nutrition initiative to Epe, by planting, processing, developing and disseminating staple food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals across the city.
Ilona said that the organisation would work closely with the farmers and traditional ruler of the host community, in Mojoda, Eredo, near Epe to achieve its farming production.
According to him, HarvestPlus with the support of the farmers would plant thousands of vitamin A cassava on the secured lands and train the home-based farmers on how to manage the crops, while HarvestPlus would provide technical services.
“This is part of the organisation objective to get Lagos State, flourished with vitamin-fortified staple foods and crops.
“HarvestPlus targets millions of Lagosians and Nigerians at large to have access to vitamin A cassava consumption,’’ he stated.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that HarvestPlus is an international organisation leading a global effort to improve nutrition, by developing and disseminating staple food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals.
It also aims at providing global leadership in bio-fortification evidence and technology.
Ilona said that the organisation would provide incentive and other relief materials/equipment to support the farmers.
“This development will create jobs, alleviate poverty and boost the socio-economic status of the host community,’’ he said.
Earlier, Mrs Tutu Alawode, founder of NAPESA Farm, in Epe, said that part of the major essential nutrients for the body are zinc, iron and vitamin A.
Alawode who farm on 45 hectares of land said that the idea of farming was to support government agricultural transformation agenda.
She said that yellow cassava was planted on her farm and her organisation also, process and sell the cassava to consumers.
She said that other crops planted on her hectares of lands include; yam tuber, plantain and vitamin A cassava.
“Our food-based approach relies on familiar staple foods that people already eat regularly to improve nutrition, known as dietary diversification,’’ she said.
Alawode said that the organisation uses the natural breeding process, stressing that its products are natural and not genetically modified.
“We have 4, 350 varieties of vitamin A cassava and none of them are genetically modified, so people are free to consume them.
“We have a lot of products from vitamin A cassava like a vitamin A cassava moimoi, fortified with beans and the cassava custard, which is good for children.
“Some others are the cassava leaf tea and flour and vitamin A yellow fufu/garri, which is natural, without additional oil added to it during processing,’’ she said.
Alawode said that her organisation has over time been creating awareness about the regular consumption of yellow cassava across the country due to its health benefit.
She said that the awareness campaign would be better achieved through collaboration with HarvestPlus, National Roots Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.