Expert urges youths to explore opportunities in bio-fortified crops


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The Country Manager of Harvestplus, an international NGO, Dr Paul Ilona, on Wednesday called on youths to explore opportunities in bio-fortified crops in order to leverage on the Federal Government’s home-grown school feeding programme.

Ilona’s advice was contained a statement issued by the organisation’s Communication Officer, Mr Ikechukwu Onyewuchi, and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan.

It stated that Ilona made the call in Akwa-Ibom at the pro-vitamin A cassava pastry training programme for women sponsored by DFID, Market Development for Niger Delta (MADE) and Harvestplus.

According to the statement, Bio-fortified crops such as vitamin A cassava and vitamin A maize have been integrated into the programme to produce highly nutritious staples.

The statement said it was unfortunate that the average child mortality in Nigeria was 2, 300 everyday while 145 women die at child birth.

It added that every child and pregnant woman had the right to live.

“Without training, one will follow the bandwagon of failures, DFID, MADE do not want that, hence the investment in this training.
“Youths must be innovative and work hard to be successful,’’ the statement said.

The statement emphasised that if youths buy into the school-feeding programme, they would become pioneers because a new market would be open to them.

It stated that another advantage that would be got from these type of products were those that had been classified as low-glycemic index foods.

“It means unlike biscuits, those who have diabetes can take these products; the research on this has been completed and the studies published,’’ he said.

It stated that youths in Oyo State had invested in confectionaries and on the average make a net return of N15 per sachet.

The model, it added, ensures business and economically viability.

“As you are learning how to produce, you should also learn how to scale.

“ At DFID-MADE and HarvestPlus, we are committed to creating a platform to ensure that you grow,’’ the statement said.

The statement also quoted the Gender Officer of MADE; Mrs Unyime Johnson, as saying that “the improved cassava variety has contributed immensely in uplifting households and providing a means of livelihood to many.’’

“Vitamin A Cassava has helped many people in the state.

“We are bringing together bakers in top hotels in the state to teach them how to make the best of the flour produced from the improved product,’’ the statement also quoted her as saying.

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