Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato can revolutionize Nigerian agriculture, says NRCRI boss

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By Christian Njoku

Calabar, Nov. 18, 2020 The National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) has asserted that industrializing Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) will revolutionize agriculture in Nigeria, as cultivating it is fast and yields as high as 10 tons per hectare.

The Head of NRCRI, Dr. Solomon Afuape, made this known on Wednesday in Calabar at a One-Day Stakeholders’ Workshop on Adoption and Utilization of OFSP in the South-South region.

Afuape, who is also a sweet potato breeder, maintained that processing of OFSP had remained a challenge, adding that awareness and processing of the product was still low.

“OFSP is an improved variety of potato which, apart from being food, is also medicine because it improves vision, strengthen the immune system, acts as an antioxidant and is highly nutritious in vitamin A, C and other micro nutrients.

“It can be cultivated in all states of Nigeria and has a short duration of three months; while the nation has over four million tons of OFSP, this can be doubled in five years.

“The plant has three different varieties, King J, Mother’s Delight, and Solo Gold, which must be cultivated with quality planting materials, good soil tilt and adequate soil moisture for maximum yield,” he said.

Afuape advised OFSP farmers to form a single, strong and vibrant cooperative that could lobby government and agencies for favourable policies and assistance.

Similarly, Mr David Obisesan, an official of the International Potato Centre (CIP), said that although OFSP cultivation was very important, Nigeria was far behind her East African counterparts in its cultivation, even as 29 per cent of the Nigerian population is vitamin A deficient.

He said that the northern part of the country was the worst hit with 48 per cent of children, under five years in Kano and Jigawa lacking in vitamin A.

Obisesan called on the government and the media to help create awareness about the crop, address the myths among OFSP farmers on its cultivation, as well as emphasize value addition to the crop.

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