By Martha Agas
The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has begun distribution of inputs to farmer cooperative societies to accelerate potato production in four local government areas of Plateau.
The benefiting farmer groups drawn from Bokkos, Mangu, Jos South and Barkin-Ladi LGAs each received 12 litres of liquid fertilisers and two knap sack sprayers, respectively.
The NEPC distributed the items to the farmers, on Thursday in Jos, during the third quarter meeting of the State Committee on Export Promotion in Plateau (SCEP).
Speaking while presenting the items to the beneficiaries, the state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr Musa Haruna said the gesture was to boost production.
He urged them to ensure effective utilisation of the items as they were expected to play critical roles in upscaling potato production in their respective communities.
The commissioner said the Plateau government under the stewardship of Governor Caleb Mutfwang was committed towards repositioning the agricultural sector to boost its revenue base.
He said the state government had procured more than 200 trucks of fertilisers for distribution to the farmers across the 17 LGAs to facilitate dry season farming.
Haruna reiterated the government commitment to create conducive environment for its economy to thrive and discourage the over dependency of white collar jobs among the youths.
In his remarks, NEPC’s Regional Coordinator, North Central Zone, Mr Samson Idowu said that the gesture was part of measures to help potato farmers navigate the challenges affecting the sector.
Idowu noted that potatoe farmers were being confronted with challenges of accessing seedlings, farm machineries, chemicals for disease control, in addition to high inflation rate.
He said that NEPC would provide more interventions as it gets more funding, to enable Plateau boost potatoe production as its One State One Product (OSOP) for export to promote the non oil sector.
“And as we have more funding opportunities, there are still other areas that we want to intervene such as in seedlings, farm machinery,” he said.
He said the SCEP quarterly meeting was organised for key stakeholders of OSOP campaign, to discuss on how to harness the comparative advantage of of potatoe and products of horticulture.
According to him, there are nine LGAs producing potatoe and has the potentials of cultivating the produce all the year round in the state.
Also speaking, the Acting Chairman, Potato Producers in the state, Mr Isaac Bawah said that potato has high yield potential of about 60 tonnes per hectre, lamenting that farmers were recording between six to seven tonnes per hectre due to difficulties in production.
Bawah said that they need inputs such as fungicides to address diseases associated with potato and also urged government to facilitate mechanised farming to boost their production.
One of the beneficiaries, Mrs Sarah Kwarpo from Jos South lauded the NEPC for the intervention and assured them that they would put it to good use. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Rabiu Sani-Ali