The Delta State Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources has distributed 4,000 bundles of new improved variety of Cassava stems to 70 cassava farmers in Ika axis of the State.
The Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Hon. Austin Chikezie while flagging off the distribution at Agbor stated that the aim of the programme was to improve farmers harvest and to create wealth.
“Specifically, the 2017 cassava programme is put together to increase cassava production for consumption and local industry, generate employment, increase yield from 16 metric tons to 30 – 45 metric tons per hectare, boost income of cassava farmers by about 100% and attract investors.” the Commissioner stated.
According to the Commissioner, “Delta State has ecologically been adjudged as one of the best in Nigeria for the cultivation of Cassava, the use of local varieties has been prevalent in the State and this has resulted in low yield. It is necessary to note that the efforts of the Nigeria Root Crop and Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan had yielded improved cassava varieties that are diseases resistant, early maturing and with average yield of between 30 – 45 metric tons.”
Hon. Chikezie revealed that the administration of Governor Okowa approved the introduction of the improved cassava varieties in Delta State in the 2017 budget year, saying that the State Government was poised to intervene massively in the agricultural sector in the State.
The Commissioner explained that the schedule of distribution of the improved cassava cuttings to farmers in Delta State was in three batches; October and December, 2017 for late planting and March 2016 for early planting, saying that the cuttings would be distributed among farmers who had expressed interest and had their farm land verified.
He however revealed that beneficiaries of the improved cassava cuttings would pay back with cuttings of equal measure giving to them at harvest which would in turn be given to other farmers in the State.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Sir Austin Oghoro urged the farmers to take advantage of the cassava cuttings distributed to them, to improve their cassava production thereby increasing their income.
Highpoint of the programme was the handing over of cassava cuttings bundles to individual beneficiaries who were at the ceremony.
In the same vein, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources in order to ensure that the State Government’s effort at increasing cassava production in the State is successful, had embarked on training the Assistant Chief Agriculture Officers (ACAOs), Subject Matters Specialists (SMEs), and the Block Extension Services Officers (BES) and in the State on how to manage farmers who got the improved Cassava cuttings distributed to farmers in the State recently.
The Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources urged the trainees to take the training seriously as they would be held accountable for any flop in the programme.
A research scientist and an Agric Extension Communication Expert from the National Root Crop Research Institute, Umudike, Dr. Okwusi Moses stated that there were innovations in the management of the new improved cassava varieties which the officers needed to know to achieve optimal yield.
Dr. Okwusi stated that the improved cassava was resistant to disease and also matured earlier than the old cassava varieties used by the farmers.