The Federal Government has commenced the training of cassava farmers in the North West Zone with a view to building their capacity on how to address yield gap in cassava production.

Radio Nigeria Correspondent in Kebbi State reports that, the training organised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Birnin Kebbi, is tagged “Capacity Building of Youth and Women Farmers to Address Yield Gap”.

In a keynote address, the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Mrs. Karima Babangida, described Nigeria as the world leading producer of cassava despite its low yield of below ten metric tones per hectre.

Represented by the Deputy Director Root and Tuber, Mr. Hakeem Raji, Mrs Karima Babangida explained that, Nigeria has the potential of having good varieties that could give more than four metric tones per hectre, assuring that the challenges posed by low yield could be surmounted through activities like workshops and adoption of appropriate policy measures in the country.

She said other measures were deployment of efficient technologies, improved agronomic practices and cropping systems that would take maximum advantage of new and improved varieties, that can be easily adopted by farmers.

According to her, one of the key priorities of the present administration under the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP), is to achieve a hunger free Nigeria through improved agricultural sector that ensure sustainable food supply easily accessible and affordable.

“We are all here today to deliberate on how to increase production, productivity on cassava and ensure self-sufficiency in food”.

In an address of welcome, representative of the North-West Zonal Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Kebbi State, Alhaji Shehu Abdullahi, said the ministry was assiduously working towards achieving food and nutrition security through its various activities by using a combination of policies and appropriate agricultural technologies that would lead to job and wealth creation as well as improved living standard of the people.

According to him, the purpose of the training is to ensure that, the yield gap in cassava production is addressed through dissemination and adoption of improved technologies as well as innovation by smallholder farmers.

The Permanent Secretary, Kebbi State Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Joel Aiki, lauded the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for selecting the state to host the training for the North-West Zone, saying, it was a right decision in view of the fact that, Kebbi State is the food basket of the nation.

He said, the state had facilitated rice production in Nigeria making the country to cater for over seventy percent of its rice demand from twenty fifteen to date.

Mr. Aiki, stressed the need for Nigeria to go beyond cassava production and hoped that the training will open door for linkages for producers to market their products.

The National President, Nigeria Cassava Growers Association, Pastor Segun Adewumi, commended the organisers of the training and assured to utilise the knowlege acquired to improve cassava yield in Nigeria.

He appealed to the Ministry to extend the training programme to other parts of the country to enable more farmers benefit from similar gesture.

Abdullahi Tukur