The Plateau State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) has sensitized Irish potato farmers in Bokkos Local Government Area of the state on ways of preventing the plant’s disease.
The sensitization programme was in collaboration with UPL Limited, an agro company.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Philip Gonap, the ADP Programme Manager, noted that potato blight had been a major challenge facing potato production in the state in the last six years
Gonap said that potato farmers in the state had recorded huge loses owing to continuous outbreaks of the fungal disease.“It is no longer news that Plateau produces 95 per cent of Irish potato being consumed in this country.But since 2012, potato blight has been the major problem facing the effective production of the root crop and potato farmers have been recording huge losses as a result of this.
We have to effectively tackle the dreaded crop disease and we decided to organize a field day where farmers and other stakeholders will meet to brainstorm on how to contain the disease. So, we are here today to tell our farmers to adopt modern and best ways of tackling potato blight so as to ensure better productivity,’’ he said
On his part, Mr. Theddeaus Yelwa, the Project Manager, Plateau Potato Value Chain, said that the decision to organize the field day was apt.
He said that the value chain project was aimed at improving potato production, storage, value addition and marketing in the state.“The value chain project cannot be very effective if the challenges facing potato farmers, particularly potato blight, are not addressed.
Government cannot do it alone; that is why the stakeholders’ collaboration is needed to tackle all problems militating against hitch-free production of potato in Plateau,’’ he said.
Mr. Shanni Shrivastava, UPL County Manager, said that Nigeria, which had been the largest producer of Irish potato in Africa, had been having poor yields.“Nigeria cultivates potato in large scale in Africa, using over 3,000 hectares of land, but in terms of yield, the country occupies the 11th or 12th position.
The potato yield is between one and two metric tons per hectare, and in some cases, the farmers experience complete losses,’’ he said.
Shrivastava assured potato farmers and the government that his organization would key into the potato value chain project so as to make potato production more lucrative.