HarvestPlus Trains Corps Members On Vit.A Cassava Production
IN furtherance of its objectives, among which are the promotion and adoption of Vitamin A biofortified staple crops, and delivery to Nigerians especially the rural poor, HarvestPlus Nigeria has intensified effort to reach many Nigerian young school leavers with a view to making them partners through sustainable agricultural entrepreneurship.
At a monthly National Youth Service Corps’ (NYSC) community development programme for corps members serving in Akinyele Local Government Area of Ibadan, Oyo State, which held last week, HarvestPlus’s team, led by its Country Manager, Paul Ilona was at the Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) training to sensitise them on the opportunities in Vitamin A Cassava production and distribution.
At the event attended by over 300 corps members, Ilona said the training presented opportunities to help them reach their potential, generate income and employ others.
He added that HarvestPlus is committed to fighting hidden hunger manifested through micronutrient deficiencies in foods by deploying biofortified staple crops and foods to the vulnerable population across the country and urged the youth corps members to partner with the organization to achieve the objective.
Areas of active entrepreneurial engagement that the youth corps members can invest in include: Vitamin A cassava stem multiplication, tuberous root production, service provision and establishment of point of sale (POS) outlets in strategic locations, among others.
“Last year, over 450,000 farmers received Vitamin A Cassava stems from HarvestPlus. This year, over 500,000 farmers will get stems for multiplication across the country and this comes in a value range of about N240 million,” Ilona said.
“Last year, we opened a pioneer point of sale (POS) to demonstrate to our partners that there is market for their Vitamin A cassava products. This year, HarvestPlus intends to work with partners from the nooks and crannies of Nigeria to establish 300 more points of sale. An online sales portal to connect the points of sale is nearing completion with huge benefits for those who come on board now,” Ilona further urged. He assured the corps members that HarvestPlus will train willing partners and provide technical support to ensure their successful take-off.
According to HarvestPlus, the organisation will continue to work with strategic partners to deepen knowledge, penetration and adoption of biofortified cassava products in Nigeria.
Last year, the organisation partnered Nollywood to produce a movie entitled “Yellow Cassava” and looks out for further opportunities to engage more groups in 2015.
NYSC’s Local Government Inspector (LGI) for Akinyele LGA, Mrs Abimbola Ajayi, thanked HarvestPlus for the Vitamin A Cassava initiative and the effort to reach out to the youth corps members as a way of helping them to plan their future if they wish to invest in agriculture. She described the youth as a critical segment of the population whose role in Government’s effort to create jobs and eradicate poverty can never be over-emphasised and urged the corps members to key into the Vitamin A Cassava initiative to enrich themselves and benefit the country by becoming HarvestPlus’s ambassadors.
Ajayi added that Government established SAED with a view to equipping youth corps members with useful skills that will enhance their life after the service year.
In his comment, President of the Corps Members’ Educational Development Group for the local government, Mr. Akinyode Emmanuel promised that the group will continue to build on the foundation already laid by HarvestPlus.
One of the youth corps members with HarvestPlus Nigeria, Samson Uche Onyekwelu said introducing the benefits of Vitamin A cassava to his colleagues was borne out of the need to help build capacity that will sustain the youth in future.