By Bukola Adewumi
The National Potato Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NAPOGPMAN) called on the Federal Government to re-introduce the produce marketing boards to reduce some challenges faced by farmers.
Mrs Christie Sunkur, the new National President of the association, made the call on Friday in Abuja during the inauguration of the newly elected executive members after 13 years which the association has been without leadership.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that produce marketing boards were established by government during the first republic to regulate quality of some farm produce, fix their prices and sell them locally or export.
There were different boards for each of the produce like cocoa marketing board, rubber marketing board, etc.
Sunkur said the marketing board was to regulate prices of goods and a place where produce could be taken to get buyers.
“It is a board where farmers’ products are taken to in order to market outside the country and even within the country. The marketing board also regulates the activities of pests and insects.
“We are calling on the Federal Government to bring up a legislation that will help farmers through the creation of the marketing board which is very possible to be done with their will power.
“We also want the government to create agric centres all over the country where all the farmers will belong,’’ she said.
The president described the last election as a milestone for the association, saying that the association had not achieved anything in the past 13 years.
“ Both the potato farmers and processors are happy, potato marketers are happy because they have an umbrella body to channel their issues to.
“ We are calling on development partners, individual and the Federal Government to sensitise and help our farmers with inputs to move the association forward.
According to her, potato is very strategic in every household in Nigeria as potato has helped to bridge food insecurity gap.
Sunkur said that one could make vegetable soup with the leaves which also have so many health benefits.
“With the strike by the various unions, most of our members have suffered various losses as potato is perishable.
“We thank God there was a meeting organised by the Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, and Mr Femi Fani-Kayode to resolve the matter with the union and yesterday the strike was called off.
“We are calling on the government to help us find ways that we can preserve potatoes just as we preserve rice, corn and other food items.
“We will want to apply to research centre in Umudike in Abia that has the mandate for tuber research to help make research on how to preserve potato so that we can keep it for six to one year’’.
Mr Paul Ojoku, one of the elected members of the association, expressed his happiness and promised to work to see that the association is moved forward.
NAN reports that 14 members were elected and inaugurated from the six geographical zones of the association