The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri has solicited for more financial support and opportunities to enhance production and processing as well as upscale the investment in the Potato value chain sub sector. He said Agriculture being  the focus of  the Federal Government ’s diversification agenda deserves a  better agro financing to provide credit facilities to support the sector’s Value Chain activities.

Baba Shehuri stated this during the first international Potato Value Chain and Roots Summit with the Theme: Repositioning Potato and Root Crops Agribusiness in Plateau State issues, challenges and prospects  held  at Crispan Hotel and Event Centre, Rayfield, Jos, Plateau State on 18th November, 2021. 

The Minister said  the ministry  will explore the opportunities and resources available to support subsequent initiatives that would boost Potato and other Root Crops Production and Processing.

Shehuri stated that  “Nigeria has comparative advantage in the production of Root and Tuber Crops, in reality the country leads in the production of Yam, Cassava and Sweet Potatoes in Africa, presently the 7th highest producer of Irish Potatoes”.

He pointed out that “the Ministry is also aware of the huge investment opportunities that exists within the Irish Potato Value Chain, however, there are some challenges such as poor seed, disease infestation (late blight), inadequate storage facilities, mechanization among others that must be addressed not only at the Federal level but also at the State level”. 

He assured that “the Ministry is firmly committed to tackling these challenges and will invest resources to this effect for the benefit of potato farmers in Nigeria”.

The Minister disclosed that ” Some of the measures taken to tackle these challenges include the establishment of Tissue Culture Centre at the National Root Crop Research Institute (NRCRI) Sub-station Jos, Plateau State to solve the seed problems, a 20-hectare irrigated land which is also ongoing to support seed multiplication and a 10-ton cold storage facility is currently being built in the station. In addition two (2) cottage factories have been constructed at Pankshin and Bokkos LGAs to support processors in the State to address post-harvest losses”.

He added that, ” all these have been done in recognition of Plateau State as the highest producer of Irish Potatoes in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa as a matter of fact the Plateau State Rural Economy revolves around Potatoe production. Recently the Ministry procured some equipment to support production, these equipment have been made available for Potato Cooperatives/ Farmers at highly subsidized rate”. 

He urged the Potato Farmers across the Nation to take advantage of numerous supports available to boost production, improve processing and increase income.

 Shehuri recognized the efforts of other potatoe producers in States such as Adamawa, Kano, Kaduna, Cross River, Bauchi, Taraba, Katsina, Jigawa, Zamfara, Kebbi, Nasarawa and Sokoto states.

According to him,  “these states are also leading producers with good and suitable climate and they also optimised their production in all year round”.   

He appealed for more robust collaboration with relevant Government Authorities, Agencies, Research Institutes and othe  Non-Governmental Stakeholders for a holistic approach to the revitalization of the Potato Value Chain and Root Crops. 

In his remarks, the Executive Governor of Plateau State, Rt. Hon. Simon Lalong, represented by the Deputy Governor, Prof. Sonni Gwanle Tyoden said that  ” as for pototo, we are second to none in Nigeria and have a high reputation for production of the crop in large quantities. This international conference is indeed holding at a time when we have put our best foot forward in consolidating our position as far as potato is concerned in Nigeria. Jos Potato has come to stay and we will drive it to higher heights”. 

The Governor further stated that, ” it is our hope that after this Conference the story of Jos potato and other root and tuber crops will never be the same again. We are determined to enhance potato production using modern technologies and also building the capacity of our farmers to adopt modern methods in production, storage, marketing and processing”. 

He called on investors both international and local to continuously partner with the State Government towards achieving the objectives of Private Public Partnership arrangement in revolutionizing the potato industry in the State. 

Rt. Hon. Lalong appreciated,   “partners like ABG Paulas, Grimmer, Pottinger, NIRSAL and others, who have worked assiduously towards ensuring that the State visit to Germany and Holland was not in vain. This first International Potato and other Tubers Conference and Exhibition in Plateau State, is therefore a very big step in reaping the benefits of our partnership”.

In his goodwill message, the Chief Executive Officer/ Managing Director, ABG Paulas said that the Summit is an opportunity to change the narrative in the Potato and other Root Crops Value Chain geared towards achieving improvement in  quality seeds , production ,processing and create wealth for smallholder farmers in Plateau State and Nigeria in general. 

In his welcome address, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Plateau State, Dr. Hosea Finangwai, said that the Summit would provide platform for smallholder farmers to collaborate with Stakeholders towards improving the livelihood of farmers by increasing production and income, especially women and youths in the State. 

Ezeaja Ikemefuna 
Chief Information Officer 
For: Director Information ( FMARD)