Thursday, 20 May 2021

C'River to mass produce biofortified staples, inaugurates state committee

As the world gradually moves to settle for the consumption of food with rich nutritional value, the Cross River State Government in a bid to curb malnutrition while improving food security, has fast tract its efforts to mass produce biofortified staples across the state. 

Making this known, during the formal lunching commercialization of bio fortified crops and inauguration of the state committee to steer this, the Commissioner  for Agriculture, Ntufam Okon Owuna said the action is inline with the governor's desire of making sure no child in Cross River State goes to bed hungry, stating that to back up that desire, there's a strong need to ensure that Cross Riverians do not only have sufficient food supply but nutritious food in affordable price. 

 "The Cross River State Government led by His Excellency Sen. (Prof.) Ben Ayade had told us during his first tenure that no child in Cross River will go to bed hungry. It is his desire and policy of the state to make sure that we do not only produce enough food, but ensure that the food is nutritious and provide the balance diet required for a healthy living. A society that has food security, a society that creates livelihood is evident in the healthy life of the people. And for us in Cross River State we are committed to this responsibility of ensuring a tripartite arrangement of the livelihood of the people in an action track, ensuring nutritious food, ensuring healthy life of the people involve in these processes.

The Commissioner who was represented by Mr Gabriel Ofon, a director in the ministry added that, "More often we talk of food security, nutritious food, the action tracks involve. More often we look at only one aspect – the producers which are the farmers. Like I said from the beginning, it is a clearer call for all the stakeholders to be involve in this process. It transits the producers which are the farmers, the processors, the marketers, the tertiary level of the finished processing of the product that place this nutritious food on our table. So the intention is to ensure that all the components are brought together as a team to ensure that we deliver on the expectation and challenges of our needs. This has become very important as it is reflected in the state committee on food and nutrition, because the component members of that committee represent all the segments and sectors involve in driving these processes."

In her address, the Commissioner for Commerce and Industries, Barr. Rosemary Archibong, appreciated the efforts of development partners like GAIN and HarvestPlus for tirelessly driving the message of nutritious staples in the state.

She expressed happiness that the launch will placed Cross River in an advantage position because according to her, the actors in that field have shown commitment, capacity and drive.

"Beginning from my governor, His Excellency, Sen. (Prof.) Ben Ayade, his dream for Cross River State is industrialization, and you cannot industrialized when the people are unhealthy. We all know that we are what we eat. He wants to produce a crop of citizens that will engage themselves in the vast opportunities available in Cross River State… Energized farmers, businessmen, entrepreneurs. And that's why whenever there is this programme, I create time to be here. We are to be involved even at the starting point. We are the traders, we are the farmers. We got to be involve so that we know what we are putting across in the market place. From this, I can see that we are ready.", she said.

The Commissioner noted that the high cost of garri in the state was due to insufficient number of cassava processing plants and that many of the farmers are still operating at the subsistent level. She lamented the adverse effects of poor quality garri on the health of Cross Riverians, adding that as a result of this, the state was ready to receive vitamin A fortified cassava introduced by GAIN and Harvest Plus.

Barr. Archibong emphasized that in the strive to industrialized Cross River, "governor Ben Ayade does not compromise nutrition. The Rice Seed and Seedlings Factory is meant to produce highly vitaminized rice seedlings that will get to the consumers in the right nutritious state.

"We have gone past the season of eating poultry products that have been highly compromised with inorganic feeds. That's why this government has set up the Feed Factory. We are also encouraging people to go into yellow maize farming."

While speaking with newsmen, the Chairman of Cassava Farmers Association called on government to ensure the new breed cassava stems gets across to farmers while ensuring the safety of farmers and farm lands from attacks of the dreaded Fulani herdsmen.  He informed that over 250 hectares of land was used in cultivating  Casava in Obanliku Local Government Area, yet they cannot account for it because of herdsmen.