HarvestPlus, farmers canvass market for vitamin A maize FG pledges to tackle malnutrition

HarvestPlus and Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) have called on industrialists and other users to provide market for the vitamin A maize as a bumper harvest is being expected for the 2021 farming year.

This is just as the Federal Government pledged to join forces with development partners such as HarvestPlus in adopting food-based approach in tackling malnutrition in the country.

HarvestPlus, a non-profit research organization that focuses on improving nutrition and public health through staple food rich in vitamins and minerals, MAAN and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) made their positions known at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday.

Yusuf Dollah, HarvestPlus Country Manager in Nigeria said at the beginning of 2021 wet season, over 9000 metric tons of vitamin A maize seed were produced and distributed throughout the country by over 20 seed companies.

Dollah explained that the vitamin A maize varieties mature within 80 days of planting to harvest it at the moment being harvested from the various agro regions of Nigeria and indications coming from the field shows that 2021 is a year for the vitamin A maize.

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“With this bumper harvest, there should be market for the farmer to be able to sell his harvest. that will motivate the farmer to do more in the coming year. This will also translate to an increase in seed purchase and the seed company will as well be motivated to increase the volume of seeds to be multiplied.

“If the market fails the farmer, he will be demotivated to continue these varieties, that will translate to low seed sales by the seed companies and the seed companies 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) and this is a disaster we must avoid,” he noted.

On his part, the Head of Nutrition and Food Safety Department at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Abdulrazak Oyeleke, commended HarvestPlus for complementing the efforts of the Federal Government in the drive to attain food and nutrition security through agriculture.

“We commend HarvestPlus on the initiative of bringing research to bear so that we will have our staples crops fortified with essential micronutrients and today we are here to showcase research output. We have bumper harvest of not just ordinary maize but the maize fortified with vitamin A.

“FMARD has the mandate of crafting policies to promote agriculture in Nigeria and with the collaboration of FMARD and other development partners like HarvestPlus, it is in our policy now that FMARD will continue to promote these biofortified crops,” Oyeleke said.

In his remarks, MAAN President, Bello Abubakar said members of the Association are the major partners that are producing Vitamin A maize and called for the availability of market so as to encourage farmers to produce more to meet the needs of the country.

“It is very important for maize processors to understand that presently now in this country, any type of maize variety that you need, you will definitely get it. Vitamin A can be available in Nigeria but production without market can discourage the farmers,” Abubakar said.