The Ogun State Government through the Ministry of Agriculture has revealed plans to partner with an international food and nutrition giant company, Harvest Plus, Nigeria on bio-fortified cassava and other crops as a sustainable agriculture intervention for health and income generation.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Adeola Odedina, while receiving the representatives of the Bill Gates Funded Donor Agency in his office, in Oke- Mosan Abeokuta, who paid a courtesy visit to him, revealed that one of the vision of the current administration is to leverage on the strengths of the private sector to deliver on food security, income for the people and access to bio-fortified foods (vitamin A cassava, maize, zinc, rice and orange fleshed sweet potatoes)
Dr. Samson Odedina submitted that discussions with the international donor agency was centred around potential areas of partnership in promoting bio-fortified crops and foods as a the Ogun State Government is seeking ways of creating wealth and increasing food sufficiency among citizens of the State.
He further stated that the partnership will see joint activities across the value chain with special emphasis on input delivery, capacity building for enterprise development in production, value addition and marketing and awareness creation to drive behaviour change and markets, noting that the Ministry will organize an investment forum on agriculture to consolidate the ongoing agricultural revolution programme of the State Government.
“Today we have discussed three things, food, nutrition and nutrient. This partnership will be one of the best in the world towards leverage on providing jobs.
“We want to ensure food security, we want to ensure our people get enough vitamins and mineral through the food they consume. And the young people will also be able to get job, that’s why we sought after this partnership.
“We have received assurance from Harvest that before the planting season, enough of these stems will be made available to our farmers in the State. We want to start from the seed, then the products and the locations where the products would be sold and consumed across the State. It is a value chain approach.
“We will start from the seed, to the product and we will have location across the state where this will be prepared. It’s a value chain approach. If you have the seeds and planting material, you have the product we will take it across the State. We are going to have the school agricultural programme and the aim is to make them grow what they eat and eat what you grow.
“We are starting with a foundation by signing and MOU with Harvest Plus which is a global product for bio- fortification So all is set to make Ogun state a center for bio- fortification in Nigeria and not only in the south west. What we want to do is to incorporate the input of Harvest Plus into our seed system.”
Speaking earlier, the Country Director, Harvest Plus Nigeria, Dr. Paul Ilona, appreciated the efforts of the State Government in taking agriculture to the next level, revealing the coalition of donor agencies are ready to help usher the agricultural revolution in the state that is driven by partnership that would have impact on investments in the State.
“We see food as a tool for the body, but in the real sense, food should be tool for nutrition, and unless our bodies are well nourished, we will not go to full capacity. Nutrition should primarily target the first 1000 days of a child, so we want to thank the State Government for putting so much effort into that. For us, food is the primary source for delivering essential micro nutrients our bodies need to go in to full capacity. So if our foods are not nutritious, we are just eating to fill up the stomach,” Dr. Ilona said.